I quite often attend events that involve some sort of  ‘potluck’ food. It can feel like a risk to rely on a random set of contributions to feed a group, but I never fail to be amazed by the fantastic meals that appear.

My learning guild meets once a month and we always have what we call a ‘shared lunch’. To be honest, we’ve got into a bit of a routine: John makes soup, Katy brings bread or roasted veg, Kate (a new member) has brought cheese and olives and I supply cake. Our less regular members tend to add something unexpected, but the basic pieces of the meal are all in place. Other occasions are less predictable.

The weekend before last, when I was teaching permaculture at Karuna, our first lunch was a pot luck. In this case you have to remember that most of the ten people had never met before and that I only gave the briefest guidelines about what to bring. Even so, we had a feast that fed us for much more than that first meal:

Food to share in the sunshine

Food to share in the sunshine

And it doesn’t just have to be about lunch; our cake and craft sessions at Denmark Farm rely on at least some participants donating a cake or other sweet snack. Because there’s no pressure to provide a meal, some of the spreads we’ve had for afternoon tea have been amazing:

I felt compelled to make some bunting to decorate the cake table with

This was our first session

But it gets better...

But it gets better…

... and better

… and better

So, next time you need to feed a group of people, take a risk and ask them all to contribute something… you never know what sort of amazing banquet you might end up with!

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  1. I usually bring something fairly substantial to that sort of thing, on the basis that other people probably won’t have brought anything I can eat safely. Needless to say, my contribution usually disappears quite fast, so I have to secure my share or go hungry!

    • Interestingly at the cake and craft sessions we’ve had a couple of people contributing wonderful gluten-free cakes and there’s even usually some left over!

  2. Here in Cambridge, we love pot luck lunches. – Have them every cropshare and many other occasions!

  3. I am always amazed at the variety at pot lucks too…I always think there will probably be 6 bowls of coleslaw and very little else but there is generally as much variety as there are people. I always take cake too because everyone likes cake 🙂

  4. like you said, just keeps getting better. YUM

  5. We just had a potluck at a family reunion and it was amazing–foods I would never make but enjoyed a lot! And desserts for the ages!

  6. My Scottish grandmother always used to tell me the story of one of the first gatherings she went to after moving to Australia. Everyone was asked to “bring a plate” (which means a plate full of food to share amongst the group). My granny felt so sorry for them that they didn’t even have plates to eat off so she took six (without food!) xoxoxoxox

  7. I love a pot-luck gathering and have never been to one where there wasn’t an amazing array of food. It’s such a fun way to get to know people too – sharing recipes and preferred tastes [sweet, salty, savoury] can all be great conversation starters.

  8. We call it “Bring a plate” here in Australia and it was the mainstay of all get togethers when I was a kid. All the mums would bring a plate and suddenly the “event” was completely catered for. I still remember my Aunty Alices sweet curry back before we had any idea what “curry” was aside from “curry and rice” cuppa soup and mum’s lasagne which caused quite a stir as no-one had ever had that sort of strange Italian dish before! I also remember the very first time I tasted broccoli back in the 70’s when my mum was working in a most progressive market gardens and brought some home reverently for us to try. Bringing a plate is saying “we are all sharing here, the playing field is level” and unless you get a wanabe Gordon Ramsey, you tend to get a most eclectic and wonderful mix of people’s favourites 🙂

    • I’m still giggling about Ms Teddy and Tottie’s grandmother… so generous with her plates :). I remember a shared meal in the 1970s that included moussaka… an un-heard-of dish in Yorkshire in those days, but quite commonplace to the Greek lady who made it and something that I’ve always had a soft spot for since. In those days ‘curry’ was considered ‘nasty’ because of all those spices!

  9. I have great memories of country childhood social tennis afternoons catered afterwards by the ladies and their specialties potluck style. And the centenary of celebration of my grandparents’ farm by its current owners was of course catered similarly… and I was delighted but instead of as I would’ve as a 7 year old eating every sweet thing, I shared generously with Priscilla their dessert-loving pig.


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