Potluck Culture

If this semester had a theme, it would most certainly be potluck. I’ve attended more potlucks in the last several weeks than in all college. I’ve toiled in the kitchen making dishes of massive proportions to feed my many different friends who for one reason or another decided independently that hosting a potluck would be a great idea. And great they have been.

It started with a potluck to celebrate Chinese New Year. The menu was set to be filled with many delicious Chinese dishes but instead consisted largely of guacamole. We are, after all, college students with limited cooking ability. Still, the year of the snake was kicked off right with many mouthfuls of guac. The other potlucks followed in similar fashion. I attended one that was hosted by a Canadian friend of mine where, in addition to goodies to eat, attendees were expected to bring along a piece of literature to share with the rest of the crowd. My friend Darlene from UCSB hosted a Mexican food potluck for which I made (what felt like) a bathtub-sized amount of horchata. Even my puppeteering class held a potluck on our last day, which, by the way, was one of the more fabulous potlucks I’ve attended. French students live up to their country’s stereotype. We had pork products and different types of cheeses abound, several bottles of wine, and of course baguettes.

Potlucks are a funny thing. Very often you end up with lots of food left over in bizarre combinations or too many people make dessert and you are have to eat sweet bread for dinner. For one potluck I went to, another attendee and I brought the only salads, both of which happened to feature beets and goat cheese, so guests had little choice when it came to grabbing a side for their pasta. But despite all the weird, mismatched food you are bound to encounter at a potluck, they are always very fun. And the best part of them – only having to make one thing in a large quantity as opposed to an entire meal for yourself – makes going to them very worth it.

I’m sure I’ll be heading off to a potluck pretty soon.

Charley Guptill