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No Thanks, Seems Like I Already Ate at Home


I’m just admitting this, and I’m not sure if anyone else has this problem, but I have a fear of potlucks. I probably need an intervention or therapy or something, but the issue is pretty minor compared to my other quirks, so I don’t see myself pursuing that. With some phobias, there might be one traumatic childhood event that caused this fear to settle in and take hold, like being bit by your best friend’s dog, or nearly drowning in your neighbor’s pool. I have no weird potluck stories from my youth. If anything, my childhood was marked by a lack of potlucks and adult parties in general. My parents did not “have people over” or “host dinner parties.” We were ahead of our time on that whole not trusting your neighbors thing. So maybe I didn’t learn at a young age how to potluck (if I may just use it as verb now), but I definitely did not have any traumatic potato salad or tuna casserole experiences that I can recall. Still, I want to analyze this issue, just for fun.

Possible reasons for my strange potluck aversion:

Cheese rules:  I don’t mean “Yay cheese! cheese rules!”  I mean, there are not many ways I like to eat cheese, and potlucks violate the Rules of Cheese for me. For example, there might be some quinoa thing, which sounds safe until somebody chops some feta cheese into tiny, impossible-to-avoid pieces and mixes it all in. Rule violation. I don’t eat raw cheese. The cheese must be melted. And the cheese must not be feta, or any type of blue or brie or stinky. So basically I’m this weird person who only likes melted pepper jack, mozzarella or cheddar. Also I don’t really like processed cheese food. You know, that Velveeta-y gunky cheese. Exception: salsa is mixed in to the cheese food, the concoction is HOT, and I have a cold beer to wash it down.  Possibly there is a football game on in the background. But a a potluck will always include cold, congealed, previously melted processed cheese food. Unacceptable.

Cleanliness: This one time, at a baby shower, I saw the food prep happen. The cat sat on the counter as the dip was being prepared. I mean, the cat was so close to the dip, its tail was touching the bowl and then hovering over the top. Normally I’m not super picky about animal proximity to food. But this was the same potluck that had the rainbow meat. Which brings me to the next thing….

Meat:  I’m kind of weird about meat. I was a vegetarian for three years, so I don’t know if I wrecked myself but I’m super skeptical about meat. I also really like to watch food documentaries and they often talk about how consuming meat will slowly kill you. Lunchmeat and ground beef are very suspect. So back to the rainbow meat: it was roast beef, and it was shiny and very much more roygbiv than I like meat to be. I also get scared about meat temps, because I worked in restaurants for years and took hourly soup temps that I then put on a record sheet on a clipboard every day of my damn life.

Mayonnaise, pudding, jello: I hate mayo. I don’t even think of it as food. It seems like mayo is a potluck staple, as is pudding and random things suspended in Jello. Along these lines, I also don’t like cream cheese, cottage cheese or sour cream.  More potluck landmines.

Food allergies: So I also have weird food allergies. Like basically, if it’s an easy-to-cook meal that involves cream-of-anything soup, Bisquick, instant potatoes, or sauces that start as powder from a packet, I can’t eat it. To clarify, I can eat it, but it causes minor breathing problems and congestion. Less fun at parties. So rather than track people down and ask about ingredients, I stay away from things that look like they might contain these landmines.

So there is my list. But, P.S., this happened once at a work potluck. A coworker signed up to bring hot dogs, and she forgot to cook them. So she put them in a foil tray and placed them on the dashboard of her car all morning. This happened in July in Reno. The coworker then presented these “cooked by the sun in her 4-Runner” hot dogs to the potluck table. I don’t think a hot dog can kill you, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

The bottom line is, I’d just rather eat my own food that I cook, or food that has been cooked by someone who’s kitchen has been inspected by the Health Department. And I guess maybe instead of calling this potluck thing a fear, I should just call it snobbery. I am a potluck snob. There, I said it.

So basically, that veggie tray is looking pretty safe.  Just for fun I googled fear of potlucks, to see if I’m the only one, and found this.

After reading this article, I seriously can’t partake in any potluck at all, ever, because new scary things have been introduced to my psyche. I just can’t handle it.


Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro

Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie Bockman permalink
    06/21/2017 2:24 am

    I love reading your posts. Interesting stuff. I guess buffets are out too? I have some horror stories about them

    • 06/21/2017 2:46 am

      Ha, thanks! I’m good with buffets. Kind of illogical. I don’t know if I want to hear the horror stories, or I might add buffet to list of fears.

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