The Potluck

2 Oct

Last Friday on the eve of my 27th birthday, I went to a potluck. I don’t frequent the potluck scene, which may be a reflection of how few friends I have in L.A. or a simple reminder that I don’t enjoy sharing food. Normally, I would head to Trader Joe’s, pick up chips and salsa and a bottle of Yellow Tail and call it a day, but something came over me that night. I decided to whip up a Quinoa with basil chicken and peppers. Whip up!? I never say that. Quinwhat!? If you had asked me two years ago what quinoa was, I might have thought you were making fun of Chinese people. A year ago I would have called you a health nut freak, and now here I am whipping up a fresh batch for a potluck dinner. Wild stuff.

Whiff that fresh grain

I nervously entered the apartment with my big ass bowl. Rushing thru the pleasantries, I scanned the counter top for a prime location. I now know what my grandmas and aunts felt like at holiday gatherings when they would subversively move each other’s dishes around vying for the good table real estate. Taking a cue from Aunt Margie, I moved the grossest looking thing to the side and slid my big ass bowl of quinoa into the spotlight. I can’t tell you how nervous I was the rest of the night. People would approach me and want to know where I was from, how I knew the host, what I did for a living, but my attention was fixed on the countertop. “You seem very nice, but unfortunately I made this fresh quinoa and I’m pretty excited about it, so we are going to have to talk later.” I didn’t care if I was labeled the socially inept food freak at the party; I wanted to be a potluck success for once in my life.
The guests started to form a line. Veggies were picked, salads were scooped and so it came time for my dish. I watched, as the saran wrap was unfolded to reveal hours of sweaty, proud kitchen labor. I almost wanted to interject and add a disclaimer like, “Just to let everyone know, this was my first time making quinoa…so…you know” but I decided to let the situation play out organically. The first girl took a bite and exclaimed, “Oh my god, who made the quinoa!?” Hell yea girl. I did. In reality, I hesitantly raised my hand. Was someone at this party going to call me a faggot? She got real close to me and asked how I made it. I tried to play it off, but she insisted I tell her, step for step.

So there I was, a 27 year old at a potluck that had just been complimented on his quinoa, telling an eager foodie how to prepare the dish. “You see the key is to cook it in vegetable stock.” I laughed out loud after I said that, and she looked confused. If only she was there during College when my go-to dish was the Tuna Nut surprise, otherwise known as whatever the hell was left in the cupboard with olive oil surprise. I have come a long way.

My Recipe: 1 box of quinoa and whip that shit up.

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