Five Old-fashioned Rules for an Old-fashioned Potluck

We live in a culture enamored with food: its preparation, its consumption, its analysis to determine if it is, or is not, good for us. Unlike other addictions, one cannot simply swear off nourishment cold turkey (pun intended) for obvious reasons.

With spring hovering, cold fronts are overwhelmed by warm fronts, causing the daffodils and tulips to bloom and the tornadoes to twirl, so it must be time to break out the flimsy summer wardrobes and wince at one’s reflection in that full-length mirror. By now those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, trim down, and muscle up are either accomplished (and have become habits) or were erased from the calendar in the wee hours of the morning. (There’s a reason to jot them down in #2 pencil.)

Whatever happened to The Potluck of yesteryear when noodle casseroles (we called them “hot dishes” in Minnesota) and strawberry  jello “salads” laced with sliced bananas and topped with whipped cream, appeared on the Lady’s Club luncheon table? Those were the days when one knew what to expect. Now recipes for “artichokes (caution is advised when consuming), brown rice (chewy to say the least), bone broth (so filling), and arugula (if you prefer bitter) have replaced fats, carbs, and yes, even, gluten laden pie crusts.


Maybe it’s time to return to those happy, naïve, bygone days when everyone rolled up their sleeves and dug out their best version of a main dish, salad, or dessert and took it with pride to the neighborhood get-together. This was back when vegetarians were few and crunchy moms had yet to evolve. Here are a few of the rules I have dredged up from those golden days:

  • Condiments are not considered a dish.
  • Bring what you need to serve your contribution as one household has only so many serving platters and generous-sized spoons.
  • Offer to help with the setup, serving, or clean-up – especially if you hope this host/hostess will be dumb enough to volunteer their house again next year.
  • Don’t try to fit absolutely every offering on one plate like it was a double-wide trailer and wonder why everything tastes like pickle juice.
  • If you have to comment on the quality of a certain mysterious offering, make certain it is complementary, as the chef may be sitting within ear shot and also may be a good shot with that squirty ketchup bottle.

So go cook up your best recipe, wrap it up, and present it proudly. And never mind about what you eat tonight; tomorrow is another day to fast, exercise, and retrench into the healthy life.

4 thoughts on “Five Old-fashioned Rules for an Old-fashioned Potluck

  1. You are making this low-carb Californian hungry and ready to forget the diet. Someone told me that when she grew up in Michigan, all weddings were potluck, and if you bought all the food instead, people would think you had no loved ones.

    1. Hey, what a great idea. A potluck wedding meal would certainly save a bunch of bucks and probably taste better too. And “nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.”

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