Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Is it rude to offer to throw someone a party and then have the party at their house? Kind of tacky, right? It wasn't my original plan, but the party honoree, our friend E, generously offered to host everyone at his place since Dan and I live in a shoebox. It's a cute shoebox, but having more than a few people over at a time is kind of pushing it. I think we've officially proven that eight people is maximum capacity. So it's not as if I just invited myself, Dan, and 11 people over for dinner at E's apartment. He offered.

But is it rude to then ask all of those people to help bring the food and drinks, even though the dinner was my idea, and I was having it at someone else's house? Maybe I'm being a little cheap or lazy. Let's just call it a potluck.

Luckily for me, and E, and everyone else, no one seemed to think my plan was rude or tacky, and dinner went swimmingly. I wasn't sure if everyone would be into cooking, but they all went above and beyond, preparing an impressive array of food and drinks, all homemade.

There were interesting dips and snacks:

Two summery salads, three kinds of sausage, and a hearty pasta to round out the meal:

Several rounds of Palomas, the perfect summertime cocktail:

And two homey desserts:

I'm now a huge proponent of potlucks. The food was great, but the best thing about the night was everyone cooking and mixing drinks and helping themselves to dinner in E's kitchen. And it's so interesting to watch people cook! I liked observing Colin's slow and deliberate method of layering tomatoes in his caprese salad, watching Mike mix Palomas in his neat, efficient way, and turning around to find a really wonderful pasta dish that Martha made seemingly off the cuff. It just sort of materialized, hot and steaming, full of vegetables and spicy sausage.

The whole night felt looser and more relaxed
like an indoor picnic. The main reason I throw dinner parties is to get people I love in the same room, but being the sole cook can make you feel disconnected from the party. I often find myself darting in and out of the kitchen just to keep up with conversation. As much as I like being in charge of a menu, sometimes it's nice to let other people help cook too.

I'm already thinking about my next potluck—anyone else want to offer up their house?

Bon voyage party for E

Chile-lime peanuts
Red pepper and white bean-garlic dip, pita chips, and crudite
Deviled eggs
Greek salad
Caprese salad
Fusili with turkey sausage, chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach
Assorted farmers market sausages
Pumpkin whoopie pies
Strawberry shortcakes

A few tips on throwing a potluck, whether it's at your house or someone else's:

1. Have everyone email or tell you what they are bringing ahead of time to make sure you don't end up with six kinds of hummus.

2. Let everyone BYOB. Or, if you're flush with cash, provide the bar yourself and let everyone else bring food.

3. Don't get hung up on matching dishes or having everything perfectly plated. The fun of a potluck is that it's casual and doesn't need to be photo-perfect. (As seen above.)

4. If people can't (or won't) cook, be flexible and let them bring premade stuff. There's no shame in a store-bought cake!

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Colin's slow and deliberate caprese-making was truly awe-inspiring to behold. Like watching a master prune a bansai tree. From now on, whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, I will demand that the chef take 45 minutes to prepare my salad and not a second less.


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