Let’s Have a Work Party at My House!
I am fortunate to work with an amazingly talented group of people. They are truly awesome. We’re a global organization and recently got together in Houston for more than a week of meetings to plan our output for the year. I thought a party at my house would be a great way to increase team bonding and provide entertainment for our traveling colleagues on the Saturday night of their 10-day trip – but, alas, I had no time to spend on cooking and preparation. Pot luck to the rescue! We can all share the load.
I have to confess – I absolutely love pot luck meals and the randomness of the dishes that arrive.
Pot Luck is Culinary Folk Art
I think it’s like culinary folk art to arrange last-minute purchased goodies next to someone’s very best dish, that recipe that was handed down for three generations from Aunt Lena because it’s that good. The serving table is the blank palate against which the food offerings will create an artsy-titchy ensemble of choices. I like the bizarre mix of cuisines and living dangerously, knowing there’s a possibility there will be seven kinds of hummus, or we’ll end up with only desserts. Pot lucks are fun. They are kind of like a smorgasbord, but more random.
The Europeans Took It to a New Level
Because some of my colleagues are from Europe, I included a definition of pot luck in the invitation: “a meal or party in which each of the guests contributes a dish”, called it a Pot Luck Open House and declared that Glover Gardens would be open for business at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday night.
At precisely 5:00 p.m., a taxi rolled up an deposited the four Europeans on the team on my doorstep. They were the first to arrive and breezed into the kitchen with overflowing grocery bags, tons of energy and a plan: they were going to make their dish in my kitchen. They scoffed at store-bought offerings and had purchased all the ingredients to make a yummy lentil soup. The soup’s accompaniment would be “Waiting Bread”, a delectable grilled garlic bread made by one of my Norwegian teammates which I had tasted before during a meal he and his wife hosted in Kongsberg, Norway last summer. (Oh, the memories!)
I was absolutely delighted. Awesome colleagues collaborating on a dish at my house? What a great way to bring together two things that are so important in my life – my weekday focus, which is collaboration with teammates, and my weekend pastime, a love of food, cooking, kitchens and all things in between.
We situated our European chefs in the outdoor kitchen, which overlooks the pool, and proceeded to arm them with equipment. The requests came fast and furious – three cutting boards, three sharp knives, bowls, a big pot, a peeler, a can opener, a sieve. (This sparked a cross-cultural discussion about “being divided by a common language” – for me, a sieve has very fine holes and is used to push something course through it to make it finer. What my Scottish colleague really wanted was what I think of as a strainer. We had a good laugh about this.)
The results of the culinary collaboration were wonderful: my colleagues had a great time, provided entertainment for the other guests, and produced a wonderful lentil soup, along with the “Waiting Bread”. The bread was a huge hit. As each batch was done, it was circulated through the party on a platter and those warm, garlicky crunchy slices were snatched up immediately.
Here’s the lentil soup recipe they used, from a blog called Cookie and Kate: Best Lentil Soup. It’s a vegan recipe which was made “as written”, and it was hugely flavorful. It tasted like it had simmered for days.
I didn’t get the recipe for the Waiting Bread, but have watched its creation twice, and here’s my attempt to capture it. It’s basically grilled garlic bread. The amounts are just my sketchy guesses.
- Several loaves of French bread or sourdough, cut into in 3/4 inch slices
- 2-3 tablespoons of pressed garlic (8-10 cloves)
- 2 sticks of softened butter
- Additional spice to your taste – there was a little Zippy Southwest by the grill and it was added sparingly to the bread
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to very hot. Combine the garlic and butter in a small bowl and mix well. Spread onto both sides of the bread and then grill both sides until the edges are crunchy. Serve hot, while waiting for the rest of your meal (thus the name “Waiting Bread”.)
Click here for a humorous blog post about potluck rules.
Pot Luck or Potluck?
Well gee, I published this post before I realized that I had approach potluck in two ways: as one word and as two. Apparently, one word is proper, but it’s too late to change my title in which I listed it as two, because it would change the link. Sigh. However, now we know! The original mention of this concept was “pot-luck” or literally, “luck of the pot”.
I’d love to hear from you in a comment on this post about your own potluck experiences.