Making Food for Other People

Potlucks are kind of the worst for me. I get that they have good qualities: sharing the food-making responsibility, lots of different kinds of food in case you don’t like one of the dishes, trying new combinations of foods that you wouldn’t have thought of, and getting to make food for your friends, if those are things you like doing. I like doing pretty much all of them except for the last one.

I never had much interest in cooking. I learned how to make a few things when I first moved out of my family’s house. I made really basic meals, and then watched my housemates make slightly more complicated meals and imitated those, as long as they didn’t involve measuring cups. When I moved into an apartment by myself I felt a lot more comfortable in the kitchen. I bought a massive cookbook and would generally read the recipes about half way through and then make up the rest. I usually enjoyed the results, but I don’t think I ever shared them with anyone.

Cooking for other people makes me incredibly nervous. The food I make rarely looks pretty. It drips and gets mushy and the colours never stay bright. People at work often compliment me on the lunches I bring, so maybe part of this is just me projecting my general dislike of cooking on my food (does that even mean what I want it to mean?). But I still hate potlucks. I’ll stay up late thinking about what I could bring and I rarely have all the ingredients and I pretty much never wash my hands before I start touching the food. So I usually bring, like, pita and hummus or something like that, and I worry that people will think I just can’t be bothered to make stuff. Actually, though, I don’t make stuff because I’m way too bothered. Once I did make stuff for a potluck and then kept it hidden from everyone. There was enough food that people didn’t notice or at least didn’t say anything. Also, I think other people hadn’t made food and at the end we had leftovers so I didn’t feel too bad about it. But it still kind of sucked.

Last year, some colleagues talked about a “Come Lunch With Me” thing they did the year before, where they each had a day where they would bring lunch for everyone and then at the end of the week vote on whose was the best. I think they based it on something called “Come Dine With Me.” Probably a UK thing. They talked about bringing it back and I was so happy they didn’t while I worked with them. I probably wouldn’t have participated. I don’t mind joining organized activities on principle (well, maybe sometimes, but not always), but I find a lot of organized activities usually involve something that I really don’t enjoy doing with other people. It might make me seem like a curmudgeon but really I think we can blame the organizers for picking an activity as personal as food.

So yeah. Potlucks. They are sometimes the worst.

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