We've become friends with some parents at our son's daycare. It started as a sort of means of survival as we were all battling daycare management over some issues, but then we all realized that we sorta liked each other! One of the other other couples invited us to their house on Sunday for a potluck dinner. This was exciting because a) I love potlucks, b) all the other guests were big food fans, too and c) we were gonna socialize!
I grew up in the suburbs of northern Jersey, where I attended the same Presbyterian Church as many of my friends, as well as my parents and grandparents. The potluck dinner was a frequent means of gathering among church members. I can remember being a little kid, standing at the end of a buffet table that seemed to run the entire length of our events hall, and just being in awe of the variety of foods that awaited me. Sure, there were multiple jello molds and green bean casseroles (we are talking about NJ suburbs in the 80s, after all) but I also got to taste at least one new dish each time and that was a treat for me.
There were five couples at Sunday's potluck including our hosts, plus our son and their twin girls. Among us there were artists, writers, lawyers, an academic, a scientist, and an engineer (I think that's what he does, at least!). So not only was it nice to sit down to some amazingly cooked grub, we also got to do it with some smart and talented people. Honestly, it was the first night in a long time where it felt like it used to when we ate with our friends back in New York. We had to leave fairly early to put our son to bed and I didn't want to go!
As I looked over the spread on the table before we sat down, I felt the same sense of adventure that my kid self must have felt at those church smorgasbords back in the day. The menu was eclectic but every single thing tasted delicious. The hostess made a beef bourguignon that was tender and rich and comforting. We had our bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed jalapenos and a blood orange and fennel salad that people really seemed to like. There was a thai slaw that had a great bite to it, some sort of garlicky kale dish that I could not devour fast enough, perfect mashed potatoes, and some amazing sausages. I feel like I'm forgetting some other delicious dinner item, too. Everything was tasty.
Dessert was made by one of the guests, who is coincidentally one of my favorite Philly food bloggers, although I tried not to gush. She is basically my go-to resource for canning. When I first found her blog, and saw that someone actually managed to do what she does in far less space than I have, I realized that I can cook well in my little crappy kitchen and I can can and preserve in my dinky backyard. At the risk of being dramatic, her blog was one of the reasons why this blog exists. Anyway, she made a delectable tart that was topped with some of her homemade orange marmalade. Even though we were only able to stay for a couple of hours, it was a long-awaited couple of hours with fun people and amazing food.
I certainly hope this becomes a habit.