Bet­ter (pot) luck

You can’t just throw one of th­ese to­gether hap­haz­ardly – it takes or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE -

DE­SPITE its name, it would be wise not to leave things to luck when hav­ing a pot luck. To start off, hav­ing a gen­eral theme is a good idea. It be­ing the fes­tive sea­son, and if you don’t want to think too hard about it, the theme for a party at this time of year is man­i­fest. But if you have Christ­mas par­ties ev­ery year, and want to do it dif­fer­ently some­times, in­stead of a meal of tra­di­tional favourites, you can make it more chal­leng­ing – and ul­ti­mately more fun – by throw­ing down a gaunt­let, like an All White – or All Red – Christ­mas theme which ex­tends to the menu as well. Or a Trop­i­cal Christ­mas, or for the Earth cru­sader, a Low-Im­pact Christ­mas. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less, re­ally. Be­yond that, it is up to the rev­ellers how they want to in­ter­pret the theme.

If the de­sire is to have a proper meal – ob­vi­ously a good idea – you may also want to make sure the meal will fol­low the usual course: starters, mains, desserts and some drinks. A ta­pas party, of course, is very fash­ion­able, but ob­vi­ously one would have to agree on it from the start so that every­body will bring ta­pas.

In a nut­shell, some plan­ning and co­or­di­na­tion – or agree­ment at the very least – is re­quired to or­gan­ise a suc­cess­ful pot luck, but the idea is still to spread the work around and have a go­tong roy­ong do – an idea we dig in this part of the world.

It’s a great idea re­ally, as a pot luck is a party that ev­ery­one owns, and al­lows folks to throw a party with­out feel­ing the pinch over costs. So, it’s es­pe­cially suited for an of­fice party – un­less the boss wants to ta-pau the en­tire cost for host­ing one.

So it was that we de­cided at Star2 to have a pot luck party. Only thing is none of us did any of the above, and re­ally left it to luck, and al­most ended with a not-so-lucky pot luck where ev­ery­one feted on desserts!

But luck was on our side, and some­one at the last minute de­cided that we should have tur­key, some pâté, salmon gravlax and plenty of crusty bread to go – not know­ing what the rest were bring­ing – and we did have a proper year-end lunch af­ter all. Apart from chicken and cau­li­flower mash, and stuffed pep­pers, dessert was in over­sup­ply: Tri­fle, short­bread, cheese­cake and a va­ri­ety of cook­ies and bars.

But per­haps no one no­ticed the sweet sur­feit as we were very happy – due to a su­gar high per­haps! – to party and we did have plenty of food, and good food, in fact.

So, we sur­vived the of­fice pot luck and now have a game plan should there be a next time.

It goes with­out say­ing that or­gan­i­sa­tion should start well in ad­vance. And we dis­cov­ered some­thing called a “sign-up sheet” for hav­ing a pot luck. In­stead of sim­ply go­ing around and get­ting a rough idea of what your col­leagues would be bring­ing, have them fill out a form – whether a hard copy or online – to say what their dish would be: an ap­pe­tiser, en­tree, a bev­er­age or dessert, and even who would pro­vide the plates and uten­sils.

The form should then be re­viewed and the gaps or ex­cesses in any cat­e­gory noted, and then cor­rected for a more sat­is­fy­ing meal. It might come to per­suad­ing peo­ple to change their dishes, which might not al­ways be an easy task.

With only a cou­ple more days to Christ­mas, should you find your­self in a pot luck sit­u­a­tion, Star2 wishes to share with you two very easy recipes. Merry Christ­mas!

ann marie chandy’s aunty G’s eg­g­less Fruit cake.

S. Indramalar’s cin­na­mon mon­key bread Wreath, a clas­sic sticky bread with green tea pow­der and cran­ber­ries.

Jane ra­ga­van’s Pep­per­mint meringue mice.

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