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Unpopular at a Potluck


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I've recently been bringing food to a few events. One is an annual "soup party" where the host specifically requests home made items and wheren the attendees often extend themselves to make something different. However, most other events the atendees want simple, basic fare that they are familiar with. I learned that the hard way. I made smoked salmon deviled eggs - pretty simple but a little different. My GF, whose family the eggs were for, strongly suggested I stick with the simple, traditional mayo-relish-paprika eggs. I knew that everyone would like the salmon eggs.

Just a few were eaten, even though some of the guests were "foodies." Afterwards, my GF's daughter told me that next time I should make the plain deviled eggs. My GF usually makes them and they are devoured in a flash.

At the next even I was to bring a potato dish. I thought of tartiflette, some interesting versions of scalloped or gratineed potatoes, but settled on the Morman dish, funeral, or Christmas, potatoes. I used cheap ingredients (Safeway frozen hash browns, Campbells Cream-of-Something soup, generic corn flakes for the topping, cheap, bland, shredded cheese). The dish was a BIG hit, and was finished in minutes, even before all the other dishes were served.

Lesson learned: when it comes to potlucks, simple, lowest-common denominator food seems to work best. My GF has been making potluck dishes for years - decades! and always brings a toned-down or blander version of a dish she'd make at home. For some reason, that's what works.

 ... Shel


 

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I've observed that phenomena, the wrinkling of the nose and dubious look, followed by a muttering of "what's that?" (ie, I don't recognize it as a familiar dish, can't identify all of the components, therefore it is unsafe for consumption). I'm the opposite, if it looks like someone tried something outside the norm, I'm in, at least for a taste.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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Yeah. Been there, done that. We had a big family party potluck, over 100 people. My husband and I made Greek meatballs -- very plain, ground beef, fleck of dill and cinnamon with just a weench of a garlic and fried in oil then served warm in a chafing dish with toothpicks. I mean, little cute beef meatballs on toothpicks. How less threatening does it get? We made about 6 dozen and I think about eight meatballs were eaten. All the other food -- stuff made with Campbell's soup and cans of junk and mixes and mayonnaise all get et up. But those poor little meatballs just sat there.

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Yeah. Been there, done that. We had a big family party potluck, over 100 people. My husband and I made Greek meatballs -- very plain, ground beef, fleck of dill and cinnamon with just a weench of a garlic and fried in oil then served warm in a chafing dish with toothpicks. I mean, little cute beef meatballs on toothpicks. How less threatening does it get? We made about 6 dozen and I think about eight meatballs were eaten. All the other food -- stuff made with Campbell's soup and cans of junk and mixes and mayonnaise all get et up. But those poor little meatballs just sat there.

Now if you'd put them in grape jelly they probably would have been snatched up in no time!

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Yeah. Been there, done that. We had a big family party potluck, over 100 people. My husband and I made Greek meatballs -- very plain, ground beef, fleck of dill and cinnamon with just a weench of a garlic and fried in oil then served warm in a chafing dish with toothpicks. I mean, little cute beef meatballs on toothpicks. How less threatening does it get? We made about 6 dozen and I think about eight meatballs were eaten. All the other food -- stuff made with Campbell's soup and cans of junk and mixes and mayonnaise all get et up. But those poor little meatballs just sat there.

Now if you'd put them in grape jelly they probably would have been snatched up in no time!

Sadly, I think you're right.

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I'm one of those people who is very cautious about what I'll eat at potlucks. While your food looked wonderful, I most certainly wouldn't have tried the shrimp because I wouldn't have known how long it might have been sitting out on the table. It all looks beautiful and delicious--I'm just very careful about what I eat.

I generally try to take things to a potluck that can sit for a while without refrigeration or won't taste terrible if they aren't served hot. It's tough!

Deb

Liberty, MO

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But yet they ate the remaining 12 (out of 3 dozen) Deviled Eggs one of the other ladies brought, EVEN after

declaring that she was "So sorry that there are only 12 left but her four sons and their rowing buddies had their hands all over them in the fridge overnight"... UGH! ANNnd that they were sweet cause she likes sugar in hers...

No one EVER brings salad or lighter fare. its all hot dogs, hamburgers, heavy salads, onion soup dip, cheesecake, brownies.

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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This reminds me of the time an Italian friend was invited to a Superbowl Party and everyone was to bring something. He brought an Onion Frittata. And was so very confused when no one ate it.

I think they still make fun of him today.

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No one EVER brings salad or lighter fare. its all hot dogs, hamburgers, heavy salads, onion soup dip, cheesecake, brownies.

We attend different potlucks. At almost every single one to which I've been throughout the years, there are several things that would qualify as "lighter fare."

There is usually some sort of relish or crudite tray with fresh veggies and a dip. I'd even say that's ubiquitous, and you don't have to have the dip, so that's definitely "light fare" by anyone's definition. There is often a fruit salad, sometimes laden with sweet stuff like coconut, maraschino cherries and those miniature marshmallows, but often without. And coleslaw, and marinated asparagus, and other salads made with fresh vegetables like broccoli and/or cauliflower, sometimes with pasta, sometimes just the veggies. Deviled eggs might have some mayo, but I think they'd definitely qualify as "lighter fare" in comparison to the 'cream of fill-in-the-blank soup' casseroles. And green beans are a popular hot vegetable dish, usually with almonds or some other sort of garnish.

And almost always, without exception, at the potlucks to which I go, there is at least one, and frequently two or even three, great big bowls of a mixed green salad.

I usually just stand there and contemplate it for a few seconds before moving on. I just find it such a weird choice for a potluck.

Don't get me wrong - I love salads. We're a big salad-eating family. We rarely have a meal without one and often, in the summertime, that's almost all we eat.

But I never, ever take any at a potluck.

First of all, a bunch of mixed greens takes up a LOT of space on your plate. And when you're looking over a table laden with anywhere from ten to forty (or more) dishes of varying degrees of enticing and appetizing and unfamiliar and intriguing possibilities, why would I want to fill up half of my plate with something I know so well as lettuce?

And then there's the dressing issue.

Either it's been pre-dressed and it's already wilting. Or it's not been pre-dressed, and there are dressings sitting alongside. Sometimes it's clearly a home-made dressing, offered in a pretty carafe. This might be a wonderful thing, but it's absolutely impossible to properly dress a mixed green salad when you're dealing with just a pile of salad on one half of your plate. More often, though, rather than an interesting homemade dressing, there is a selection of commercial dressings, always including Ranch and Italian. Absolutely no way I'm going to waste plate and tummy space on what was undoubtedly a bag of pre-washed mixed lettuce with bottled dressing poured over.

It's so odd to me. I've really given far more thought than I probably should as to why someone would bring it. Obviously they've got their reasons. And the reasons undoubtedly make perfect sense to them.

But to me, it's a puzzle.

Still, since we're talking about "lighter fare," that definitely qualifies.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Jaymes I was talking about the potlucks Ive been to. I wasnt generalizing (this time)

Maybe different parts of the country? I dunno. That just hasn't been my experience...

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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One year 3 people brought identical bread bowls with onion soup dip...

:laugh: Yikes!

1970?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I think you really can't take it to heart. I know, I've been there. One year a friend of mine asked me to bring a vegetable to Thanksgiving. I'm a rather good baker, and known for it, and I specialize in pie, and I was stunned. I brought a dish I pulled out of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone at the last minute and it was a big hit.

Last night (SuperBowl) I brought a three foot sandwich I bought from an Italian deli and it was a big hit.

Who knows why and when something is a hit, because all I can remember is the time I brought a pumpkin pie and whipped organic cream on the spot, and then passed it, and the teenagers present proceeded to eat the entire bowl of cream. And no one ate the pie. I think I might remember that on my deathbed.

My mother and I have our Differences, but I only have to think of her story of taking one of her absolutely gorgeous pecan pies, homemade lard crust flaky like a dream, wrapped perfectly and beautifully, to a bake sale where it sold for fifty cents and I am filled with love for her.

For some reason, potluck cooking can be very painful. We love making our food and pride ourselves on it and we want to share it with people who appreciate it.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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A potluck dish has to have its flavors either obvious or very easily expected. Deviled eggs, Italian pasta dishes and MacCheese speak for themselves and are popular (tho they can still really suck).

A casserole hidden under a crust is a lottery that may not be worth space on my plate and just sit there taking up valuable real estate.

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Are you bringing food to show off, or are you bringing food you think people should eat, or are you bringing food that you think people will like. The first two are among the reasons that foodies have such a bad reputation. They are disconnected from other people and only thinking about themselves.

Edited by sigma (log)
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I thought I was the only one whose feelings are hurt if my contribution isn't eaten. I now make sure my husband knows it's his duty to take a huge portion of my dish.

Lately I've been taking crostini, topped with herb cheese, & either smoked salmon, cold roast beef or ham. I don't have to worry, as they are always very popular.

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Removing a "starter scoop" is important. Maybe even before the dish hits the table.

Newton's Law of Potluck-dynamics states "a dish uneaten tends to stay uneaten"

Edited by gfweb (log)
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This Foodie is selfless enough to try every dish and have a sick stomach every time becuase of the odd combinations and food sitting out.

I go for my friend's company.

I'm participating in this thread because I feel a oneness with Foodies.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I've a reputation to defend and try to come with with something new from time to time but I often fall back on old favorites if a party is to include a lot of new people.

People who are familiar with my cooking do tend to come up and ask what I've prepared soon after I arrive.

I make a variation on tamale pie which is always quickly consumed so I often take a back-up which can quickly be reheated on site.

A scalloped potato with thinly sliced ham or Canadian bacon casserole is very popular, as it my pumpkin chili and a mac & cheese with shredded beef (or pork) that is "spiked" with green chiles.

I always take along a large container of my homemade sour cream to go along with any somewhat spicy dish.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Removing a "starter scoop" is important. Maybe even before the dish hits the table.

Newton's Law of Potluck-dynamics states "a dish uneaten tends to stay uneaten"

Yep!

At minimum, cut it up into serving sizes.

Be seen eating it.

And if necessary, 'helpfully' dish a portion onto someone elses plate when you serve yourself.

We once watched a beautiful onion-topped baked brie languish untouched because people thought it was a dessert and they didnt want sweets with their booze. We know its not the recipe, because usually we get asked to bring it when we're invited to a potluck.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Sweet deviled eggs? I've never heard of such a travesty.

This made me reflect and decide that there is a hint of sweetness in my deviled eggs. I certainly do not add sugar, so I thought a moment, and then walked over to the fridge and pulled out a container of store brand mayo....

Yep, included in the ingredient list is high-fructose corn syrup.

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People who are familiar with my cooking do tend to come up and ask what I've prepared soon after I arrive.

Same here. And when I answer, they say "You didn't make any beans?" :hmmm:

So, can we distill some best practices for popularity in potluck dishes?

Should be edible with fingers, not mess up a plate with sauces, not wilt or dry out easily nor spoil readily laid out on a buffet table?

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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