Monday, March 12, 2012

Pot luck or no luck

I love a good party and I have a lot of parties at my house.  I also hate Potluck Parties.  If someone goes to the trouble of figuring out a good recipe, and buying the ingredients, and putting it all together, don't you want to eat it with foods that will complement one another?  Do you really want a pot of chili next to a pan of lasagna?  When I give a party I want to do the menu and if someone thinks they absolutely MUST "help" me by bringing something I ask them to bring an appetizer or dessert as those are the things that will be served separately from my carefully planned meal.  And by dessert no one cares anyway.

But, every year we have a group of people who gather at our house for the Wolf Trap Potluck where we select what performances we want to attend at Wolf Trap during the summer and get our tickets organized.  Most of these people aren't even my friends, they are friends of a friend who started organizing the tickets each year.  Then we morphed into the potluck idea so that we would have a winter social event and no one would have to do much work. (Note:  I have lots of winter social events and don't need this one.  These people apparently have no other friends.)  But it always turns into a nightmare for me.  We supply the house and all the prep and clean up that goes with that.  Since we need appetizers when the first guests arrive I supply the appetizers and beer/wine/sodas.  And generally once the bids are in on who is bringing what food I fill in all the gaps - which is usually a main course.  Suddenly I've put together an entire party and the food presentations are random and have no relationship to one another (think of the year we had no main dish except for the shrimp and grits I made at the last minute, but we did have GALLONS of fruit salad).  This year is apparently "dessert year" based on the offerings we are getting from the attendees. 

And this year, just to make things more complicated, everyone is chiming in with their latest food allergy.  So far we are working around gluten free, no milk products that have been cooked on top of stove, and no spinach.  Can't these people just pick and choose what they eat to satisfy their own needs?  Do we all need to assure that every single thing on the table meets their specific requirements?

So my current plan - subject to much change - is
  • cream cheese and jalapeno jelly with crackers  (my gluten-free friend knows enough not to eat the crackers)
  • Salmon spread with cucumber slices
  • Italian skewers - artichoke hearts cheese cubes salami, etc

and for the main dish I'll do Chicken Marbella since it can be eaten at room temperature and leftovers freeze well.  That is another one of my potluck pet peeves - the people who bring their half baked or unprepared food and expect to use my kitchen to complete cooking or preparing.  I'm not talking about sticking something in the oven to keep it warm.  I'm talking they bring the separate ingredients and proceed to need knives, bowls, dishes, pots, cutting boards, baking pans, etc.  They COOK in my kitchen in the middle of the party. 

Usually when I throw a party I don't drink alcohol until dinner is on the table and everything is well underway.  This year I may start drinking the day before.

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