About Me

My photo
...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Monday, May 21, 2012

21st Century Potluck

I grew up the daughter of a Baptist Minister.  Back in the 70s and  80s, in the Baptist environment, we had potlucks all the time.  We had Wednesday night Bible study potlucks, and Thursday night potlucks that I'm not sure why we had them but we had them, and we had Friday night potlucks which, again I can't really remember why we had them but I can assume it was because it was a Friday night and we were Baptist so you really weren't allowed to go play cards or dance or go out for a drink or anything so you might as well have a pot luck, right?  And then there were Sunday night potlucks sometimes (because in those days Baptists were big on Sunday night church, in addition to the three morning services we already had, and so it made sense to break up the monotony sometimes and have a potluck and eat while simultaneously singing some hymns or something).  And then, of course, there were the church picnics that were also potlucks, but... at least you had a playground and maybe even a swimming pool somewhere close by so you could potentially make it through the entire day without enduring the "potluck" part of things.

I can't fully explain my aversion to the potluck.  I have mental screen shots of being somewhere around 5 years old where my dad would walk me through the potluck line and put a little bit of everything on my plate without asking me if I wanted it or not (and, having been a parent now, I'm sure he didn't ask me because he knew I needed to eat something and he also knew I would say no to everything on the table).  And I remember sitting at the table and seeing some strange green bean casserole on my plate, and some homemade potato salad, and some homemade macaroni salad, and some random vegetables (including radishes), and maybe I was lucky enough to have a piece of fried chicken (but it always seemed to be homemade fried chicken that was dry and bland and overcooked so... there goes that hope of tastiness...).  And then there was always some crazy green jello mold thing with cottage cheese in it and... well... there never seemed to be anything that my mom cooked on my plate and... at 5 years old, you really knew nothing except for the fact that your mom's cooking was trustworthy and everything else on your plate at the moment was questionable.

Years later, I find myself in a position where I'm at a potluck with my own daughter and it's a completely different experience.  For my daughter, she will most likely have bad ass memories of "potlucks" that I never had.  Why?  Because the potluck these days seems to be planned by that select group of ladies that have husbands wealthy enough to let them stay home and do nothing but make the home and such.  So these ladies plan an event and designate it as a potluck, but the majority of us are working so... this means you don't get green bean casseroles or crazy jello that comes from molds with cottage cheese somewhere in the mix.  This means that you get people that quickly drive through McDonalds and buy fifty 99 cent cheeseburgers and you get to stand in line and watch the woman in charge of the potluck hand out cheeseburgers from the paper bag to anyone willing to take them.  This means that there's about five boxes of Hot-N-Ready pizzas from Little Ceasars on the potluck table because another working parent stopped there on the way home.  This means that there are buckets and buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken on the table which is awesome because you know FOR CERTAIN it isn't overcooked and dry because, well, it's KFC (and if I weren't a Celiac, I'd totally eat that).  And sure, there's the one lady that had the time to make a homemade pot of Chicken Albondiga Soup, but there's also the one lady that still had enough guilt in her soul to drive all the way home from work and quickly chop up some lettuce and put in a bowl and try to pass it off as a salad, completely oblivious to the fact that the women behind the potluck table were wondering what the hell to do with that shit because there was no dressing or anything, just a bowl of lettuce.

I'd still like to take a moment to tell that lady that I think she's a bad ass for two reasons: 1) in the face of pizza and cheese burgers and fried chicken, the kids weren't going to eat any kind of salad anyway, even if she had thrown in some cranberries, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, and some bad ass vinaigrette dressing and 2) I'm a Celiac, and as bland and tasteless as that shit may have been, it was one of the only things on that stupid table I could eat and thank God I was smart enough to notice the Ranch dressing in the veggie tray behind it (which also reminds me, I need to give props to the genius that thought up the pre-made veggie tray because I'm pretty sure your mom was the one that always took the time to chop up the veggies and present them at the church potluck on her best china, and you were smart enough to grow up and make millions because you knew the future of the working world and people like me would forever bring the pre-made veggie tray to social events... God bless you, whoever you are... you are a smart and insightful individual and I wish I would've met you and married you and lived happily ever after off the fact that all you did was make millions from a really simple idea that everyone else was too dumb to figure out).

I don't know what else to say except, sort of like American politics, it may be time to recognize the traditional way of doing things doesn't apply anymore. If you have a situation where everyone is making a quick and random stop just to include a food item which could be McDonald's cheese burgers and Little Caesars Hot N Ready pizzas, you may need to realize that this is a time in American History where the art of the potluck (if you can call it that) is completely lost.  We live in a time of convenience.  And, at least in my world, it may be more beneficial to send out a memo saying, "We want to throw a get together, please contribute 10 to 20 dollars, and we will have ... cater the event."  I guarantee you, knowing myself and people like myself, that will fly.  Why?  Because we will probably spend that amount to feed our family random restaurant dinner or drive thru something or other on any given night of the week anyway so... go ahead, pool that money and make something happen.  But... I know what I'm saying makes everyone go into some kind of irrational tizzy that makes no sense to them or myself (that is to say, when they try to explain their irrational tizzy I have this moment where my mind breaks down because I can't figure out why this is a problem when it makes perfect sense to me but... okay... have it your way... I'll bring potato salad that came from the Albertson's deli across the street if I have to just to keep the potluck peace, even if no one eats it because there are five other potato salads from Costco on the table to choose from -- no one has time to peel potatoes and boil them and mix them in some strange mayo goo anymore either, but it still seems to be a potluck staple).

None the less, someone has to be the voice of potluck reason and well... at least tonight... it's me.

No comments:

Post a Comment