POTLUCK

Of course, I’d love to come to your holiday dinner. What can I bring? Wine? A box of candy?

No. You want a vegetable dish. What about green beans in mushroom soup with fried onions on top?

Oh, Debbie’s bringing that. She does every year.

What about a Kale salad that I can buy at Smart and Final? Are yams with marshmallows already spoken for? What you really want from me is the Epicurious recipe for root vegetables with chanterelle mushrooms?

What I may come up with is an excuse to not come to your dinner.

I don’t do pot luck well. I’m better doing a whole dinner. The whole gestalt..not the separate dishes. I don’t have a specialty. I wish I had a specialty that some hostess would beg me to bring…my marinated herring salad on rosemary crackers or my katchipuri casserole or lingonberry latkes?

I never got over a pot luck holiday party several decades ago in a fancy house in Encino. The women throwing the party were poets and writers and also great cooks. They always intimidated me. I searched through copies of gourmet magazine at the library and hand copied a recipe for an eggplant dish made with imported ham, aged cheese, organic tomato and a very expensive olive oil.

I cooked all day and in order to keep the eggplant from looking dried out, I kept adding olive oil. In the end the eggplant looked like stringy mucous phlegm floating in a splotchy bed of tomatoes. It sat in the crueset pot near the center of her grand dining room buffet table. I made my rounds every fifteen minutes to see how it was doing and to take three heaping spoonfuls of the dish no one was willing to even try.

At about 11pm when people were preparing to leave, all of the other serving bowls were empty, ready to be taken home. I put my full pot under my large coat and exited quickly and quietly.

It really looked worse than it tasted.

I do remember baking a chocolate cake for the bake sale at Dixie Canyon Elementary School. They cut it into squares and complimented me on my brownies. The last birthday carrot cake I baked for my son was one I sent by Greyhound bus to Eureka. I told him it was coming. It was one of my earthquake cakes lopsided since the stove was on a slanted floor since the 94 quake. He thanked me for it.

Two weeks later I got a call from the bus station saying the package I sent was beginning to smell. No one had picked it up. When I called Eric, he said “It’s the thought that counts, Mom”.

I always like to bring some hint of romance and wisdom into what I put on my blog. I am relieved to find in my experience that the way to a man’s heart has not been through his stomach. But on the other hand a flavorful macaroni and cheese or spicy omelet prepared by a gentleman of a certain age can certainly stimulate my taste buds and other sensual spots.

 

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