No, this is not a recipe post. This is about one of my favorite ways to spend Friday night – at a potluck.
I’ve organized a few family potlucks for my shul, and every time I do, I wish we had them more often. Here are my top 10 5 reasons why, in no particular order.
1. I love only having to prepare one dish. (I almost always bring this noodle kugel.)
2. I love trying other people’s signature potluck dishes. Last time someone brought an amazing spelt salad, and this time, well…..we had three different kinds of pizza.
3. I love having a chance to shmooze with a tableful of grownups. The conversation is exponentially more interesting than with just two couples, the maximum we can fit at our table.
4. Everyone (or almost everyone) pitches in to clean up.
5. FREE BABYSITTERS! (I insist on the shul hiring babysitters to play with the kids after dinner if I’m going to volunteer to lead the rest of the program.) This allows #3 to actually take place.
A few tips for a successful shabbat potluck:
1. Don’t count on someone to bring the grape juice and challah. The organizer should take care of the ritual needs, so you don’t worry someone not showing up.
2. If your synagogue doesn’t allow potlucks in the actual kitchen for kashrut reasons, buy a few inexpensive serving pieces to have on hand for the people who forget.
3. The only real downside to a potluck is the risk that there won’t be enough food, or too much of one thing (dessert, for example), and not enough of another. There are a few ways to help prevent this – either assign parts of the meal according to least name (A-F bring drinks, G-N bring entrees, etc.) There’s also a nifty online potluck organizer that works really well if you can rely on people to sign up ahead of time.
4. Wine makes shabbat even better (in my personal opinion.) If you can’t write BYOB on the flyer, at least drop a few hints.