Thursday, December 08, 2005

Holiday Potluck Party

I love potlucks. I remember attending Baptist church potlucks as a child, and how the older ladies would always bring thick-handled casserole dishes piled with mountains of cheesy potatoes or noodles, covered with browned and crumbly topping, and riddled with hot, buttery pockets interspersed into every bite. I also remember how the ladies would eagerly trade recipes among themselves when a dish was particularly good.

This last week, I relived some of my potluck memories for our Holiday Potluck Party at work. I want to share about the potluck dishes, and perhaps give you some ideas for potlucks in your near future.

Everything was very tasty, but my two favorite potluck dishes were the eggplant caponata and the homemade bread. When eaten together, it could be a vegetarian sandwich "to die for."

The eggplant caponata was a delicious relish of finely diced celery, sweet red bell peppers, and spongy chunks of fresh eggplant. I had never had caponata before, so I was surprised that the eggplant wasn’t slimy, dry, or blackened by oxidization. Instead, the eggplant perfectly absorbed the other flavors, but also retained its own distinct attributes. The recipe my colleague used was from
Everyday Italian, by Giada DeLaurentis.

The crusty bread was phenomenal, because of the contrasting, yet symbiotic flavors. The bread had subtle tanginess from swiss cheese; the deep crunch of shelled and oily walnuts; the crispness of airy oat flakes dusted on the surface; and chewy bites of salty kalamata olives. The bread was not made from a recipe, but from heart!

The remaining repertoire included:

Cabbage salad with crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds,

Lil' Smokies cooked in a slow-cooker in ketchup sauce,

Take-out cabbage and pork potstickers,

A crudité tray of colored bell peppers, broccoli, grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and sugar snap peas,

A tray of supermarket sushi,

Noodle kugel,

Pumpkin pie,

Pumpkin bread cooked in a coffee tin,

And finally, a huge peach cobbler.

The dishes I made won’t seem new to you—I brought the staples I always make for hungry people: enchiladas and fried rice. (Sorry for the posting "reruns.")

Potlucks are the best way to break the ice and to develop friendships with others. Cooking for guests can be a very vulnerable experience. You are putting yourself out on the line to be criticized or lauded. Also, you are relying on the generosity of others to contribute to the overall experience.

For me, when I cook for others, I want them to be satisfied. If they are disappointed, I feel personally insulted or dejected. Conversely, when someone eats my food and likes it, I feel accepted and loved. A potluck brings the best relationship elements together, and thus is the perfect way to spend time with others and enjoy their company.

I hope this posting inspired you to also have a "Holiday Potluck Party" this year. For me, holding potlucks is a tradition that I will continue for every holiday season.


  1. I'm looking forward to seeing your post on the Xmas Party this Thursday.

  2. Stan, I'll do it this weekend, I promise.

  3. Okay, maybe next weekend. . . I'm falling behind in my posts. :(


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