Some scholars believe that the first use of the term Pot-luck appears in the work of an Elizabethan poet named Thomas Nashe. While that might be true, given that his fame was largely driven by his erotic poetry, I hesitate to consider what Pot-luck may have meant to Nashe. Instead, I favor the Irish and the sense of a communal meal where friends and neighbors brought whatever ingredients they had to place into the one pot – hence, the food they enjoyed was literally the luck of the pot.
I have many memories of pot-lucks as a child. They typically revolved around church and each was complete with the horrors of waldorf salad, cold macaroni and the lime green jello mold that was disguising shredded carrots. Yet there are other things that I always hoped someone would bring – like deviled eggs. I think pot-lucks have evolved.
Each year my youngest son’s school has a Thanksgiving potluck. It’s a fabulous event held after the children perform a special program with every family (approximately 125) bringing a dish to share. There is no menu, no list, no this part of the alphabet bringing that. The food is left to chance and chances are that one will leave with their fill of flavorful dishes regardless of one’s diet or food preferences. Whether one is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, or omnivore, there is plenty to eat.
When I asked my son what he’d like to take for potluck, his response puzzled me. “Stuffed peppers,” he replied. Really? Stuffed peppers? I didn’t recall him loving the peppers and he quickly assured me that this was indeed true. It’s not the pepper, mom. It’s the stuffing. I love the stuffing part. I instantly felt badly for asking as our pepper supply was diminished and my root bin is overflowing in yams. How would you feel about roasted yams? “That’s fine.” Once again, I am a lucky mom.
This post contains so many of those things that I am truly thankful for at this holiday. I am grateful for our seasonal food, for Farmer Kelly who grows it, for family food traditions, for the opportunity to travel to loved ones and share a meal, for the wonderful school that my youngest son attends and for his flexibility in choosing the pot-luck menu. I’ve definitely received the luck of the pot this year! Happy Thanksgiving!
Honey Roasted Yams
Adapted from Ellie Krieger at the Food Network
- 2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2 – 3/4 inch dice and put in a 9 by 13 baking dish. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender. Serve as an easy pot-luck dish at Thanksgiving!