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Enrichment Potluck

Last month, I went to the Relief Society birthday party in my ward. I got there a little late, so I dropped off my assigned potato salad and found a table to sit down.

Now, I love this blue cheese potato salad from Gourmet magazine. Since discovering it, I don’t make the yellow potato salad anymore.

After the opening prayer, we went to the buffet line. Interestingly, even though there were 60 women there, only 4 of us had brought food. So, there were 2 potato salads, a noodle/tuna/corn? dish, and a green salad. Oh, but fortunately, there was a lot of ham for those who cared for it.

Because of the way the food was set up, I couldn’t get to my blue cheese potato salad, so I took small amounts of the other dishes and skipped the ham. Our table was all seated, and the woman next to me took a bite of my potato salad and said, “Oh, this is not nearly as good as I thought it was going to be, and I got way too much of it.”

Then, the whole table launched into how it just didn’t taste right. One woman suggested they all just spread it around on their plates so they it looked like they ate it.

“Why does it taste funny?”
“Hmmm…I think it’s the cheese.”
“What is it?”
“Feta?”
“Oh, yes, definitely feta.”

Now, part of me wanted to jump in, correct such egregious mistakes, and say that I had made it, but with each successive comment about my potato salad, I got more and more stuck. I was also pretty heartbroken. I had been hoping to start a gourmet group (like my fabulous one in Boston) in this ward. And, since my table didn’t know what blue cheese looked or tasted like, I’m a little worried about how this will happen.

The evening continued, and at the end of the night, I went to grab my bowl. One of the women sitting at my table was drying it. I almost didn’t want to take it from her because then she would know what had happened. But, my name was on the bottom of the bowl anyway (and really, shouldn’t she learn that disparaging food at a potluck is a no-no?!).

I took it from her, thanking her for washing it. The look on her face made me feel too bad for her to have my feelings hurt anymore. So, you probably don’t want to take this to your ward’s next potluck, but I think it’s delicious!

Blue Cheese Potato Salad

EmilyCC

EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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  1. Julie M. Smith says:

    This is a fabulous story; thanks for sharing.

    (I usually don’t compliment the food at a potluck, either, because then I feel like I have to say something nice about everything for fear of offending with my silence!)

  2. Starfoxy says:

    Potlucks are tricky. My one hard and fast rule is never take more than one or two bites of *anything* in the first go round. I’ve also thought it would be a good idea to require the recipe be displayed next to the dish. That would mostly serve to avoid food allergy incidents, but would also have the perk of preventing uncomfortable situations like yours. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it was sitting there listening them.
    (btw your link is broken)

  3. Heather P. says:

    The link to the recipe isn’t working. It looks like there’s an extra http:// and no close quote inside the tag.

    For anyone who’s curious like I was, try this.

    It does sound delicious!

  4. jana says:

    I think blue cheese is an acquired taste. When I was a junior in college I lived with a family where the husband was a gourmet cook [note: this is also the family that introduced me to Sunstone–very cool liberal mormons]. Anyways, one of the first meals they served was ‘rigatoni gorgonzola,’ a pasta dish with a heavy cream sauce chock full of garlic and gorgonzola (a mild blue) cheese.

    I found myself trying to eat the pasta with as little sauce as possible. I wondered at the strength of the flavor. I think my eyes even watered a bit. But by the time I had lived there for about six months (and eaten this dish almost every week), I was licking the sauce off of my plate. Loved it!

    It’s still a Remy family favorite, although we don’t eat it often because it’s so high in fat. YUMMMY!!

    I can’t wait to try your potato salad. I don’t doubt that it’s *delicious*.

  5. Mabel Maybe says:

    One of the biggest chasms to bridge in the church is socioeconomic class.

  6. stacer says:

    MotherofAll, I think that’s a really good point, and I think it goes both ways. Having grown up in poverty but now living as an educated single woman, I’ve seen both sides of the coin. When I was younger, I might have said the same thing about a dish that had unfamiliar ingredients. I think one way of bridging that gap food-wise is by having Relief Society cooking nights in which we can introduce new tastes to our fellow sisters, ingredient by ingredient. My own RS just had an h’orsedoevres night in which a girl in the ward who is an amazing cook showed us the gamut of appetizers, from fancy to extremely simple. The women attending the night were from a variety of socioeconomic background.

    I think that sharing food can be such a cultural learning experience, both within and across cultures. When we have a chance to discuss the food, that opens up the conversation to broader cultural topics. There are a couple of great movies on that subject, actually–what’s the Japanese (Chinese? I can’t remember–it’s been years) movie about the family of chefs who show their love for each other through the dinners they cook for each other?

  7. MaryAA says:

    Stacer,

    Are you thinking of “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman”? It is is a Chinese film that was remade (if you will) a few years later into an American film called “Tortilla Soup” that has a Mexican-American cast of characters.

  8. Harijan says:

    I have to say, from personal experience, Emily’s potatoe salad is one of the most heavenly terrific dishes I have ever had. When she makes it I usually gain 3-5 pounds. Sadly, she does not make it much for me anymore.

    In situations like this I often think of ways to make everyone even more uncomfortable, just for entertainment value.

    One of the women at the table who was complaining about the salad, later learned that the salad maker was sitting next to her. This woman’s husband works in my industry. I have lunch with him on occasion and we discuss working together on projects.

    As a networking move I sent him and his wife tickets to the symphony on behalf of my company so they can have a nice pleasant evening out alone. I think he is holding the tickets to surprise her with a nice date night.

  9. EmilyCC says:

    Mother of all, I don’t think this is an instance of a socioeconomic class difference; these women’s husbands have good careers in business and law (although I agree, it certainly could be the case in other instances).

    I think blue cheese is also an acquired taste (and I have a couple of foodie friends who still don’t like it). Jana, that recipe you talked about sounds delicious, too!

    I like the experienced potluckers’ ideas. Sample first and watch out for complimenting as well as criticizing. And, Stacer, I think being willing to share dishes is important to bridging cultural (and socioeconomic) gaps. The h’orsedoevres night sounds really fun!

  10. stacer says:

    maryaa, yes, Eat, Drink, Man, Woman is exactly the movie I was thinking of. I highly recommend it as a study in family relationships, especially symbolically. I don’t remember content specifics, though–it’s been since about 1994 since I saw it. So if there are bad parts, please don’t blame me. 🙂

  11. Dora says:

    OTOH, it does take a certain amount of dexterity to be able to insert one’s foot into one’s mouth while simultaneously eating potatoe salad. I’m constantly amused at some people’s entire lack of awareness of others. To such myopic fellow beings, I just want to give a set of humanity-viewing eyeglasses that would let them enjoy the variety inherent in this life.

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