Monday, February 9, 2009

Potluck Ubiquity

I'm tired of potlucks.

What is it about college and the overwhelming abundance and ubiquity of bad potlucks? Okay, so in theory, potlucks are a beautiful and poetic idea: gather up a group of your favorite people and have each of them bring a tasty dish to some sort of gathering. It's wonderful; diverse people get to share diverse culinary experiences with one another in a very intimate way. But like so many other things, potlucks work theoretically most of the time and rarely in actuality. Usually, these events degenerate into potato chips, soda, and dessert parties that, while fun, are boring and shallow in a culinary sense.Being the born and bred culinary fiend that I am, I much prefer the dinner party to the potluck. And while the dinner party has images associated with it that run contrary to those of the potluck (dinner parties: stuffy, formal; potlucks: organic, egalitarian), I feel that they are simply better. From the foodie's point of view, dinner parties allow for one thing in particular: quality control. As a dinner party host, you have the ability to set a menu, pick dishes that go well together, and even select appropriate drinks for your meal. Here, the host shares themselves with their guests by not only offering a welcoming home, but by designing a creative and palatable culinary and nutritional experience. These are experiences that can be rooted in personal preference, cultural tradition, and creativity. In essence, the dinner party strives for quality of culinary and personal interaction, not the sheer quantity that the potluck favors so.

The potluck is reckless. They are unstructured in an almost irresponsible sort of way because potlucks rely not only only on a varied set of culinary abilities (which can or cannot be a good thing), but on the portability of food items. How many potlucks have been ruined by poorly managed tupperware? Each of these variables, when taken separately, can surely be a source for creativity and improvisation, but when combined with each other (plus a dozen or so people), they can quickly result in unappetizing and inedible culinary havoc. So, as a rule: 1) potlucks suck, 2) they're really not THAT cool, 3) dinner parties rule.

My answer to potluck lovers is very simple: let me cook for you. Come to my dinner party and if you MUST bring something, bring a nice bottle of wine (Leave your Double Stuf Oreos at home).

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think in both cases, the most important ingredient is the attendees. Beautiful tasty bourgeois dinner party can be trumped by messy lazy unhealthy potluck if the folks are right.

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