Potlucks, Family Reunions, Backyard BBQs, Covered-Dish Church Suppers, whatever you call them, any large gathering of hungry people bearing donations of prepared food is going to be well attended. There’s something about an array of covered dishes that’s just plain irresistible. From the aromas to the anticipation when lids are lifted and foil is folded back, we’re all eager for the feast to begin.
Sure, the hot food turns cold, the cold food gets warm and the sandwiches dry out. The lemonade will be sticky and the coffee weak but we still flock to those groaning tables, elbowing neighbors and second cousins ruthlessly aside as we head for the platters of fried chicken.
Did Grandpa Ed make his “Kitchen Sink Casserole” again? Does Auntie Sue finally break down and reveal the secret of her enchiladas? How many of the pies will be homemade? Will that woman you know from P.T.A. with the sour pickle pucker bring her usual can of slightly warmed green beans, presenting it as if she’d labored for hours? It’s all part of the fun and furor of a potluck.
I’ve occasionally wondered what would happen if the luck ever ran out of a potluck and everyone brought the same thing. What are the odds of that ever happening? Think about it. What would we do if we were faced with, say, forty-seven salads and one skimpy 8 inch square pan of brownies, no nuts, no icing? The only thing worse would be forty-seven green bean casseroles.
Imagine tables laden with dish after dish of lime-green Jello, plus half a dozen more of an undetermined red, all melting so fast the marshmallows kept popping up. There might be nine or ten coleslaws, most of them still in their KFC containers, countless versions of three-bean and pea salad and a whole lot of cottage cheese. There would probably be a few macaroni and potato salads, plus one bowl of pallid lettuce sprinkled with chunks of unripened tomatoes, drenched in ranch dressing. No one would even want a whiff of the brownies after somebody’s freckle-faced six year old was spotted licking the crumbs out of the pan.
What would happen? How would it go? I’m thinking this would be one of the shortest get-togethers ever. No long winded war stories, no exchange of crochet patterns, no bragging about grades from parents of kids in the local schools. There’d be an early exodus with everyone looking for the nearest fast-food joint on their route home. We’d be running into one another as we dashed back to our cars, sheepishly clutching bags of bacon cheeseburgers.
I’m betting on sign-up sheets the next time around.