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As the holiday season is here, there was recent discussion in my office about having a potluck Thanksgiving next Tuesday. I think it'll be a lot of fun. But the suggestion brought back memories of potlucks past, and some of them were not very good. My objections to certain potluck dishes fall into the following categories:

1) You can't even prepare an edible dish in your own damn kitchen, so why impose your dreck on the masses,

2) Agenda cooking: I have no objections to people who make the personal decision or whose health dictates that they eat lowfat, fat free, sugar free, salt free, etc. and understand that they may want to make sure there is something suitable for them to eat (BTW, I think that there should be a little something there for everyone's taste, if possible). But to bring a massive quantity of that food and become livid when people don't exactly go nuts over it (yes, this really happened), well is just strange, I think;

3) The dish is a disaster, as in burnt, overcooked, oversalted, etc., you tried to rescue it, but it's still a disaster, but what the Hell, bring it in anyway and see who bites (literally)

I'll try to think of more (I know there have to be more), but please regale us with your most shudder inducing potluck memories.

As I said, number two above really happened. At a previous workplace, a particularly highstrung, anal-retentive type co-worker made some sort of whole grain, vegetarian casserole. Now, I love whole grains and vegetables, but she made it low salt and fat free; still, if that's what you love, go for it. She placed it on a table of about at least three dozen luscious dishes including ham, turkey, other meats, cheeses, all manner dips, side dishes, and desserts, most of which were pretty damn calorie laden and fattening. There were a few crudites and other not-so-fattening items, but those were in the distinct minority. Not everyone's dishes were polished off including mine. However, when this woman checked the table later into the party and noticed that very little of her offering had been sampled, she picked up the dish, container and all, and, in a rage, threw it into the trash! :shock:

This same woman, for whatever reason, would also become distinctly irritated if anyone deigned to want to take home the hambone leftover from the potluck ham, which was purchased by our company, to which she seemed to have felt oddly entitled to each year. In keeping with the holiday spirit :rolleyes: I must shamefully admit to absconding with said hambone after one year's potluck before she got her grubby mitts on it and found perverse pleasure in her consternation that "someone" took her hambone after she had explicitly announced in advance that she wanted it! :hmmm: How deliciously vindictive. :cool: Yes, I know, I need help.

Please "dish" about your tasteless/tastefree/distasteful potluck experiences.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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:laugh:

:blink: Really - the horror that is pot-luck. (Sorry, I keep waiting to be shown differently but it hasn't happened yet. :sad::rolleyes: )

It almost has a science-fiction aura to me by this point, the idea of pot-lucks.

The last one I went to was at some church thing. Regular suburban-type church, upper-middle class, good variety of people from all over the country and all over the world go to this church. We were there because my daughter used to go to some children's group thing with a friend of hers who belonged to the church.

Christmas-time Pot-Luck. In one of the seemingly hundreds of rooms they have that extended from the church proper in gleeful little rows.

There apparently were more choices of rooms in the church than there were in the choices of things that people had brought to the pot-luck. Every. Single. Table. Had some sort of tortilla chip thing with salsa and cheese on it, or beans, or meat and beans and salsa. Some glopped up sour cream here and there.

Twenty dishes made from packaged tortilla chips with glop. Nothing else.

Oh. But for the five trays of homemade brownies that all looked and tasted exactly as if they came from the same recipe (box?), too.

(Where's that Twilight Zone music?) :blink:

Edited to add: There was actually one of those cheese and port ball thingies with crackers. I stood next to it and nibbled at it while staring at all the tortilla chip thingies, and when a woman came near I happened to make the comment, "Nice port and cheese ball - I just wish she'd left the bottle". :biggrin: Not the right thing to say at a church, apparently, from the look she gave me. :wacko:

Oh, yeah. I also forgot to add that when I asked (when invited) if I could "bring anything" I was told "No, no, no! Please don't! We've got plenty of food!" :laugh::unsure:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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I once brought a fruit tart to a dessert potluck. Nobody touched it, and I didn't blame them, although I cannot tell you why. There was just something very weird about that tart. It looked tired and sort of as if the cook (that would be me) had been sweating all over it or something. No idea why. I am not a super baker but people will normally eat my desserts. This was just one baneful tart.

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Wow CarrotTop that one actually made me want to heave. What kind of church was this for goodness' sake, the church of Satan?

Okay, now I'll have to out myself. Even though it was many years ago, I still considered myself to be a pretty good cook and decent cake baker. The cake I decided to attempt was my version of a Pina Colada cake. It really wasn't such a bad idea: homemade yellow cake, crushed pineapple, coconut, a bit of rum with seven minute frosting (icing?), the latter of which I had made successfully many times. Except this time. The cake came out fine. I think the plan was to lightly brush the cake layers with a bit of rum, spread on some frosting, spoon on some drained crushed pineapple, repeat, finishing by frosting the whole thing then sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Well the frosting/icing was a disaster. What should have been heavenly clouds of fluff siezed up some how--to this day I don't know what I did wrong. I tried adding more water, more corn syrup, putting it back on the heat, beating it more, anything, to no avail. I then tried to spread this mess on the cake layers, which of course tore off pieces of cake that I tried in vain to mortar back into place with same said frosting/icing. Finally, I tried to cover up this monstrosity with coconut which stuck in some places, but not others. Having no time to make a substitution after promising several co-workers that this would be my contribution, I took it to work. It was a hideous, crumbling mess. I was so embarassed. I sheepishly set it out and slinked away. But something amazing happened: they ate it and they liked it, so much so that people were scraping the last crumbs away from the serving plate. I had been keeping my distance from it all throughout the party, so I only got to taste a few of those last crumbs and to my relief it tasted good! :shock: However, being that I can be somewhat vain about all aspects of my cooking, I'm still pretty mortified by how the damn thing looked. Lesson learned: always have a backup dish, just in case. :smile:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Well, Tess and Chris, since you've been so honest. I will give you my two worst potluck moments. Once a co-worker warned a friend to watch out for the disgusting broccoli slaw, that it is so awful, don't even go near it, will produce vomiting etc. And the other time was when some friends had determined that some idiot used smoked turkey to make the dish their daughter was noisily spitting out and what the hell were they thinking using smoked meat and blah blah blah yes you guessed it--both of those were my dishes. :biggrin:

Moral of the story is, if you're not really sure who's dish it is you might want to refrain from lustily bashing it in public.

:rolleyes: Just a thought... :laugh:

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There apparently were more choices of rooms in the church than there were in the choices of things that people had brought to the pot-luck. Every. Single. Table. Had some sort of tortilla chip thing with salsa and cheese on it, or beans, or meat and beans and salsa. Some glopped up sour cream here and there.

Twenty dishes made from packaged tortilla chips with glop. Nothing else.

Oh. But for the five trays of homemade brownies that all looked and tasted exactly as if they came from the same recipe (box?), too.

Reminds me of the time my husband went to a potluck party when I was home with the flu. He said the only thing to eat was potato chips!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Two years ago, at a work Thanskgiving potluck, the very first person to sign up said they would bring mac-n-cheese. I haven't normally had macaroni and cheese at Thanksgiving, but I have a few delicious recipes with a variety of cheeses that are really delicious (my favorite uses stilton and port), so I looked forward to trying it.

The day rolls around, and she brought one of those HUGE disposable aluminum pans full of Kraft macaroni and cheese. I was disappointed, but what the heck. Beforehand, she tells me she realized she had no milk or butter at home, so she just used water to make 10 boxes of macaroni and cheese. :wacko: Not only is it boxed mac-n-cheese, but the only redeeming ingrediants are left out? I didn't even try it (it was bright orange and gritty looking), but judging from the amount left, no one came back for seconds.

Why not just bring something from a deli, or drinks, or something?

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Oh, speaking of baking disasters, I was once told to bring a cake to a party. I did a chocolate cake, probably from Nigella or something. My Kitchenade went crazy in the middle of mixing the batter and started running like an outboard motor; it had stripped a gear. The cake came out in two layers, the top looking like it was mostly egg white. I just broke that layer off and frosted the bottom one. People ate that cake, even though it looked lumpy and weird and was very dense. People will eat anything chocolate I guess.

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Geez, the memories keep flooding back; how could I have forgotten this one:

Flashback to when vegetarianism was becoming more popular and a somewhat unknown territory to me. I was pretty young then and really didn't know much about vegetarian cuisine, so when I was invited to a vegetarian potluck, I said "sure, why not?" Little did I know what horrors lay in store. Let me preface by saying that this was back in the day when a there was a lot of extremely bad vegetarian "cooking" especially in the U.S. that didn't seem to take advantage of all the wonderful vegetarian dishes from other cuisines. Anyway, this was during the fall, somewhere in Massachusetts at some sort of group residence for mostly college students, and I was merely a guest and not expected to bring anything.

Finally we arrive and there are already a fair amount people there. There's a long table laid out with various bowls and dishes. Sorry but I can't really remember the names (if those dishes actually had names) of any of the dishes. The one thing that stood out was that I kept waiting to get hit in the face with that "wow, something smells pretty good" kind of aroma, the kind I could expect whenever my mom or any other good cook had been cooking. Alas, no such smell. I approached the table to find a couple of salads, some beige casseroles, raw vegetables, a bean dip maybe and lots and lots of plain steamed vegetables. It did not look to promising, but I got a plate and began to eat and: nothing. No flavor, no enticing aromas, no nothin'. I later found out that the reason for this was that everything had to be "natural" and "pure" so no salt, no sugar, no discernible oil or spiciness, I'm not even sure there was even pepper. I remember sheepishly asking one of the people I came with if there was any salt, butter, anything and being looked at as if I'd asked for a medium rare steak. Damn, even the house was cold; I guess heat was deemed to be "unnatural" as well. Being raised Southern, I tried to be as polite as possible and since I was hungry, I did try to eat the food. BTW, I forgot to say that there was wine and pot. Yeah lots of that and boy did I need it! :rolleyes: So there I am trapped in this cold hippy-dippy house, with lousy food, wine, pot, the munchies, and no ride outta there, fantasizing about my momma's home cooking. Dante himself could not have imagined this ring of Hell. :shock: Unfortunately, I think it was this approach to vegetarianism that gave that way of eating an undeserved reputation as being bland and tasteless which this stuff was. When I finally got out of there, I believe I remember buying several subs at a great sub shop near my school, amongst them a gigantic lobster salad sub, like a lobster roll, but on steroids and reminding myself of one of my mother's hard and fast rules: never, ever go anywhere hungry unless you have a pretty damn good idea of what's waiting for you on the other end. :biggrin:

Edited for spelling and grammar.

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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:laugh:

:blink: Really - the horror that is pot-luck. (Sorry, I keep waiting to be shown differently but it hasn't happened yet. :sad:  :rolleyes: )

It almost has a science-fiction aura to me by this point, the idea of pot-lucks.

...

You need to set up an egullet pot luck! We've had a few killer potlucks out here in the SF area.

But yeah, a general office potluck can be a mixed bag. That being said, at a former company I worked at the potlucks were quite good. We had a pretty diverse workforce and people would often bring homemade dishes from their own cultures or backgrounds.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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It would have been the fat and sugar free carob "brownies."  I said I was allergic to carob.

And apparently snowangel they were allergic to FLAVOR! :biggrin:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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It would have been the fat and sugar free carob "brownies."  I said I was allergic to carob.

What a coincidence! I'm allergic to carob, too! If I taste carob, I immediately break out in violent fits, destroying all of the carob within reach. The symptoms settle down once all of the carob items have been eradicated. Strange affliction.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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A rather weird wedding that was sort of spur of the moment so the reception, held in the firehouse, was a pot luck.

Someone brought potato salad similar to the one mentioned above. Boiled potatoes and cheap mayo!

Not to be bragging but I don't remember ever bringing something bad to a pot luck. One dish that wasn't eaten was a Thai Chicken Salad, I think because the attendees had never encountered something like that. OK by me I brought it home and ate it myself.

Around here a pot luck table often looks like volcano of lasagna erupted.

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divalasvegas, I think I was at that potluck too!! 

I brought marshmallow ambrosia, not knowing what kinda meal I was attending.  You'da thought I brought barbecued babies, from the ugly looks I got. 

I didn't take home any leftovers, however.

Okay sparrowgrass I have to ask, what exactly was so heinous about you bringing an ambrosia salad with marshmallows to the vegetarian "blowout" I described (post #11) above? I think I know, but I'd like to hear it from you.

As an aside, while in Massachusetts at that time, I also had probably one of the most delicious, memorable vegetarian meals in my life at a small restaurant run by a Hindu couple (we all worked in the college's student dining hall; I was a student, they were regular staff). They kept bringing out dish after dish of flavorful vegetarian fare to me and another student, concluding with an amazing dessert (don't know the name) of some kind of vermicelli (?) noodles in a creamy sauce, golden with saffron, some other spices, nuts and raisins (yeah, it was so good, I remembered the ingredients). At the end, because we all worked together, they refused to take our money. I don't know how "natural" or "pure" their food would have been considered by the aforementioned vegetarians but I will never forget them, their hospitality and their delicious food.

Peace.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Okay sparrowgrass I have to ask, what exactly was so heinous about you bringing an ambrosia salad with marshmallows to the vegetarian "blowout" I described (post #11) above? I think I know, but I'd like to hear it from you.

I'm not sparrowgrass, but I can make a guess at the reason for the reaction: Marshmallows aren't vegetarian. They have gelatin in them.

I hate to admit it, but I kind of like some of the potluck concoctions - casseroles with Campbell's soup and a potato chip topping, that kind of thing - if only because it's the kind of food I never make at home, and certainly not anything you'd get at a restaurant, but it can be kind of tasty. I think it's all the sodium. Since I don't have any of these dishes in my repertoire, I tend to volunteer to bring the soda or the paper plates to potlucks.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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As an aside, while in Massachusetts at that time, I also had probably one of the most delicious, memorable vegetarian meals in my life at a small restaurant run by a Hindu couple (we all worked in the college's student dining hall; I was a student, they were regular staff).  They kept bringing out dish after dish of flavorful vegetarian fare to me and another student, concluding with an amazing  dessert (don't know the name) of some kind of vermicelli (?) noodles in a creamy sauce, golden with saffron, some other spices, nuts and raisins (yeah, it was so good, I remembered the ingredients).  At the end, because we all worked together, they refused to take our money.  I don't know how "natural" or "pure" their food would have been considered by the aforementioned vegetarians but I will never forget them, their hospitality and their delicious food.

divalasvegas: that dessert is most likely semiya (=vermicelli) kheer.

kheer can also be made with rice or grated carrots, or lots of other things..

milagai

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A bachelor friend of ours came to a potluck with a covered dutch oven. Setting it on the table and proudly removing the lid with a flourish, he beamed. Inside, 2 (each) of the pony-sized bottles of Miller, Miller Lite and Michelob with a few leggy, stemmy pieces of parsley. No one said anything; finally Brian couldn't take it any more..."It's three-beer salad!" :biggrin:

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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