los angeles guest suites

 

pom couscous

pom steak

Pot Luck

by Tom Maxwell
Print Email

potluckposter.jpg In the thirty years I lived in Los Angeles, I experienced a wide array of social gatherings including a séance, a cocktail party in a cancer ward and an evening of Pictionary at the home of the late Don Knotts. But, I never went to a pot-luck dinner.     

That all changed when my wife and I moved to Vermont.  As another transplanted Californian put it, pot-lucks are, “the coin of the realm,” here in the Green Mountain State.  Drive through any village around dusk and you’re bound to see people crossing lawns with casseroles in hand as they head for gatherings of book groups, political clubs and contra dancing societies.     

On the whole, this is a genial tradition very much in keeping with the unpretentious, do-it-yourself philosophy of the state.  However, despite all their ostensible laid-back, down hominess, pot-lucks present their own particular pressures.  First of all, unlike going to somebody’s house for dinner in LA, you can’t just pick up a bottle of wine on the way. You’re expected to bring food and I’m not talking about a bag of store-bought cookies--you have to make something. 

potluck_spread.jpgThis requires planning, shopping and cooking.  We’ve found the best dishes are those that can arrive cold, such as devilled eggs (plus, we have chickens) and that won’t spill in the car as you rattle down bumpy, dirt roads (the stain made by a slushy, blueberry cobbler is almost impossible to get out of upholstery).

Once you’ve found a dish that’s appropriate, the tendency is to stick with it.  This is a rookie mistake.  The population here is small, so you’ll see the same people at the “Town-Hall-Theatre” pot-luck who you saw the week before at the “Save-Otter-Creek” pot luck, so you can’t bring the same dish to both places.  Well, you can, but then you’ll be known as “the bean guy,” like this one fellow who inevitably shows up with the same crock pot full of guess what.

Another awkward moment, which you’re bound to experience if you go to enough pot-lucks, is showing up with the same dish as somebody else.  There’s always a good chuckle about this, but behind the laughter is a competitive tension.  I can tell you from personal experience, it’s no fun watching someone else’s macaroni and cheese disappear as yours sits on the sideboard, untouched, like the plastic food they use in commercial shoots. 

potluck.jpg Finally, there’s the pressure to try some of everything in order not to hurt anyone’s feelings.  This was brought home to me at the “Helping-Hands-For-Hospice” pot-luck.  I had filled my plate and was headed for the beverage table for some apple cider, when confronted by an agitated woman, who asked me point blank why I wasn’t trying her candied yams. I assured her it was an oversight and quickly added a spoonful of the sugary, orange goo to my meal.  As I did so, I asked her why she hadn’t selected any of my wife’s cherry crumble. The woman said she was allergic to wheat and that even one bit of the crust would cause her throat to close.  I’m sure she was lying.    

 
Tom Maxwell is a former director of The Groundlings and TV writer.  He now lives in Vermont where he and his wife operate Fairy Tale Farm Bed and Breakfast.

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Restaurant News

Sorza
Paris
by Jamie Wolf

sorza_collage1a.jpgThe Isle St. Louis is like the Nantucket of Paris. One of the ancient islands in the middle of the Seine, with Notre Dame at its tip and many picturesque bridges connecting it to the Left and...

Read more...
Three Fat Boys in Astoria
New York
by Michael Tucker

ImageCall out the riot squad! Barricade the streets! Lock up your daughters! The Three Fat Unemployed Actors’ Lunch Club is on the loose again — this time in the far reaches of Queens at the wonderful...

Read more...
Caracol Mexican Coastal Cuisine
Texas
by Nancy Ellison

caracolCaracol is not my idea of a Mexican Restaurant. My idea of a Mexican restaurant is that small family owned local café in Toluca Lake or Carmen’s on 3rd St. that we would go to on Thursday night,...

Read more...
Sushi Ota
Southern California
by Kitty Kaufman

Sushi ota 1Sushi Ota modestly calls itself the "premier sushi restaurant in San Diego." They rate the number 52 spot on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US but I didn't know this before. Their adamant...

Read more...