Friday, November 13, 2009

Potluck: We Eat at 8

I've been a grad student for two and a half years in Madison. When I arrived here, I knew that I liked good food, and I knew that I liked making food for others. But the weekly farmers' market, the abundance of high-quality restaurants, and the appeal of turning the oven on full-blast to roast a chicken or bake a pie in the dead of winter have turned me into a true bon vivant.

In addition, I've been lucky enough to find a group of compatriots who share my interest in food. A little over a year ago, one Thursday in October of 2009, a small group congregated to share ham and potatoes. I think I brought a chocolate cake. The following week another dear friend turned what was a random occurrence of good food into a weekly tradition. The second potluck took place in an apartment over a coffeeshop, where we ate some chana masala, drank some Trader Joe's wine, and played some games. At this point, I, at least, was hooked.

We've continued to have potlucks almost every week, taking a break over the winter holidays and with slightly less frequency during the summer. There's no set plan for who brings what (though we did try to make one early on). I usually bring dessert, and a few people often provide wine, but otherwise the menu each week is truly an adventure. Sometime we end up with 4 rice dishes, sometime we have one main dish and 8 bottles of wine. Very occasionally, no one brings alcohol, and we enjoy a full meal with a great deal of variety. Whatever the case, we make do, and enjoy what we have.

A few weeks ago, three of us made a ducken-hen for potluck. A ducken-hen is the downsized version of a turducken - cornish game hen in a chicken in a duck. It was such an achievement, especially since we had been told by numerous professionals that it wasn't worth the effort, that I felt we should share our success with the world. And if a ducken-hen is worth screaming from the rooftops about, why not a truly excellent chocolate torte, or a "hot & dirty"-themed potluck, or a meal that is entirely green and white?

So here I am, starting a blog. I plan to chronicle our potlucks each week, and bring you a little bit more about one star dish, including the recipe for it. Also, perhaps there will be a few extras - restaurant experiences, food from around the world, or tasting parties. I hope I can inspire someone else to start a potluck community in their neck of the woods. Believe me, it's worth it. Not only do you get to eat good food at least once a week, but you'll make new friends and become closer to the old ones.

As they say in Germany, "Guten Appetit!"