Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Putting the “Luck” in the Potluck

I earned a bad reputation for myself at a company Potluck when I accidentally added a plastic-sealed recipe fold-out to my batch of fudge.
“What are these layers made of?” one executive asked, splitting the fudge in two to reveal the white strata.
“Layers?” I asked, my eyebrows rising to my hairline.
“It looks like it has writing on it,” another executive added.
Writing on it?” My mind-- visibly racing; my forehead--wet with anxiety.
“It’s paper!” someone shouted and in a flash, everyone’s head was up, like a herd of deer who just heard a twig snap. 
Those fellow employees will never look at a plate of fudge the same way again.  They will be mistrustful and wonder, “Did some dingbat put plastic in these?”  I’ve done this to them…and I am ashamed.
I can relate to their distrust because I’ve had similar “Close Encounters of the Putrid Kind” at pretty much every Communal Food Event I’ve ever been to.  Here’s how a typical “Potluck Action” plays out:  Heidi spots the cheese and sausage tray, present at all these spreads.  Heidi takes a slice of sausage, alerting the “Sausage Preparer’s” keen ear.  In a flash, he appears at my side smiling:
 “How do ya like my sausage?”  He’s way too anxious for me to try it.  I suspect he’s a hunter, or “meat mingler” as experience has taught me.
“It’s good,” I appease, nodding, thinking, “come on, buddy, what is it? I know you wanna tell me.”
“You’re eating squirrel and wolverine sausage,” he announces with pride.
“Didn’t you make the “pulled pork” in the crock pot too?” I sputter. 
I never said it was pork.”
Trust is also key when it comes to offering temperature sensitive food.  It’s especially hard to maintain quality Potluck food control when alcohol is being consumed and dulls “Food Spoilage” senses.  After a few hours, and the third of fourth round, the SERIOUS "munchies" set in.  I've probably saved the life of many intoxicated party goers by standing in front of a suspicious shrimp ring, trying to get them interested in Doritos instead.

"Are those shrimp moving?" a guest asked.  Reanimated shrimp are a neighborhood favorite, along with a couple of my specialties: "Taco Dip" swill and "Cause of Death" potato salad. 
From the paper in my fudge incident, I realize I had poor awareness when it came to food preparation.  But I’m not the only one putting the “luck” in the Potluck.  An acquaintance of the family made these unbelievably good fruited Christmas cookies.  People would beg her to bring them to parties.  One day I went to pick up a batch, and saw her secret:  She threw a bed sheet on to the kitchen floor and tossed the hot cookies into a pile of powdered sugar.  A lovebird cage with two feathery residents hung just above it.
That wolverine sausage didn't seem so bad after that.