Skip to main content

Casual Spirit, Egalitarian Touch: the American Potluck

"Meal at which all people present share dishes they brought"? Potluck.
Today being Labor Day some families in our neighborhood decided to get together for a potluck: grilled chicken and salmon, home made potato salad; a salad of spinach, blue cheese, and pears; a fruit platter, brownies...

I like potlucks, their casual spirit, the egalitarian touch. Very American. Everybody pitches in, no one has to feel bad because one family or even one person had to do all the work. In Austria potlucks are not really common; there is not even a German word for the concept. It could be  Kesselglueck - literal yet somewhat charming - but that term doesn't exist. On the web I found "Potluck: großes Abendessen, bei dem sich alle Anwesenden selbst mitgebrachte Speisen teilen" (translation from Reverso). This describes the idea accurately but it is a bit long.

For those of you who don't speak German, here's a re-translation, phrased as an invitation: "Please join us for a large evening meal at which all people present share dishes they brought themselves." How does that sound?

Comments

debi said…
Christina,

The picture of food makes my mouth water. Everything looks delicious. What is that drink; it looks yummy.

I chuckled at the translation.

Potlucks are fun and tend to be a source of added pounds since each dish shared is usually a family favorite and better than average fare (often with little regard to calories).
Thanks, Debi.

It's a smoothie, can't quite remember what, berries and something... B. across the street has the recipe. It tasted delicious.
Mark said…
Hi Christina,

I'm really surprised that potlucks are not common in Austria and Germany. My extended family, which their strong German background, is obsessed with potlucks anytime we meet. I always thought that the practice was brought over from Europe.

Now I'm wondering if it is part of Scandinavian culture, since that is the dominant culture in Minnesota.
Thank you, Mark.

Scandinavian could be right. In Austria you might offer to bring a cake for dessert but the rest is up to the hosts - which is why I used to find invitations at my home rather stressful. I love to cook but am terrible at getting the timing right. If I am the one responsible for putting all the food on the table the main dish will be ready long before the first course.
Anonymous said…
Liebe Leute,
das einzige Problem an dieser Geschichte ist, wenn 3 von 4 Damen nicht wirklich kochen können, dann wird das ganze auch kein kulinarisches Event. Vielleicht ist es vielen Leuten auch nicht wichtig was sie essen - oder sie kennen den Unterschied nicht. Vielleicht geht es euch dabei aber auch gar nicht um das Essen? Oder man isst es, weil man höflich ist?
Bussi aus Wien von Manu
Manu, danke fuer deinen Kommentar und bitte verzeih, dass es mit der Antwort gar so lange gedauert hat. Ich war nie bei einem Potluck, bei dem das Essen nicht gut war, aber vielleicht liegt das einfach an unserem Freundeskreis. Bussi aus L.A.!

Popular posts from this blog

Back to Basics: Dry Summers, Figs, and a Chunk of Cheese

What do we know about simplicity? Figs from our tree. Figs. The taste of summer, the taste of home; my immigrant home. Our backyard tree is heavy with fruit. In the mornings I go out to pick what is ripe; figs for breakfast, a treat straight from the tree; flesh and seeds, refreshing and sweet, grainy resistance and softness at the same time. Figs, the color of their skin, purple with blotches of green or white stripes where they have cracked. The reds and browns inside bring up memories: a summer spent in Normandy, France, with my parents, my brother, and my maternal grandmother. Life was about food in its basic, original form, about mussels and figs and cheese; it was about the ocean and its tides, gigantic but predictable, and about history. We visited Bayeux to see  the tapestry which tells the story of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings;  we spent a day or a half at  Arromanches,  saw a documentary on D-Day and the landing of the allied forces on the b

Another Word for Fast Food? Trzesniewski (Pile On 1)

The other day I passed by a new Subway sandwich place which had opened a few blocks from our house. As I was reflecting its green and yellow sign images of foot long chunks of white bread came to mind, mayo smeared on one half, mustard on the other; ham, provolone, pickles, jalapenos, onions, peppers, olives, tomatoes in between and a bag of chips for sides... People in America like to pile on. I also thought of my favorite fast food place in Vienna, which goes by the unspeakable name of Trzesniewski. The original Trzesniewski opened in the first district more than one hundred years ago. Its oldest location is tucked into a narrow street off of Graben. Other outlets are scattered around town. Trzesniewski sells open face sandwiches, slivers of rye bread (white or wheat? no, you do not get to choose!), topped with spreads made from either egg or tomatoes or cucumber, pickle, salmon, herring...  The more elaborate creations come with two or three spreads, applied next to each other

Ban on Plastic Bags Bugs L.A. County

Paper or plastic? Bag from South Africa. My friend recently came back from a trip to South Africa and brought me a reusable grocery bag. It is from Woolworths, one of the largest retail chains in South Africa; it is made by a community project and serves as a symbol of the company's commitment to sustainability and social development. I will think of this whenever I use my new bag. Thank you, dear friend! The Woolworths bag is not my first reusable bag. I carry two baggies which fold up into packs smaller than a deck of cards in my purse and a bunch of bigger ones in the trunk of my car. To me this feels like an easy way of making a difference environmentally. Others seem to have a harder time. When the county of Los Angeles recently introduced a ban on plastic bags for its unincorporated areas the new ordinance was met with resistance. Shops bemoan that paper is more expensive than plastic. They charge customers ten cents for every paper bag. Shoppers complain about the t