Cook’s Irritated: The Case Against Potlucks


If I was never invited to another potluck in my life, that would be great. Potlucks are terrible and I don’t know why this shit continues to be a popular social event. I’ve even heard that people are having potluck weddings now, which is a really cool idea. It’s not enough that I have to drop a hundy on your stupid registry, now I gotta bring a quiche, too?

Here’s why potlucks pot-suck:

1. You Have to Cook Something Just to Show Up

First of all, don’t “invite” me to cook for you. Let’s call it what it is: cashing in a fucking favor. You’re not hosting if everyone else is doing the work, too.

I love the person who responds right away with, “I’ll bring dessert!” or “I’ll bring salad!” Cute! So you pretty much just get to pick up a bag of mixed greens or some cupcakes and call it a day while the rest of us are left holding our dicks. “I’ll bring wine” isn’t even an option, which is why this whole thing is terrible. “I’ll bring wine” should always be an option.

2. Schlepping Food From Your Home Destroys It

I understand why people who host potlucks like them: because those fuckers get to leisurely cook in their own kitchens, crack open the wine, let their dishes warm on the stove while everyone arrives, then serve them exactly how they should be presented. They never have to carry a tray of lasagna down the block, onto the subway platform, and somehow balance it while holding onto a pole and avoiding teenage break dancers on the Q train. Entire dishes end up all slid to the side, sauces leak everywhere, and everything gets cold.

Drake, Lady Gaga

3. Nothing is Served at the Right Temperature

Nobody has a hot plate or a warming tray or room in the goddamn fridge. Everything is just room temperature. Foods that are supposed to be crispy steam in their containers on the way over and end up soggy. Actually, everything is just kind of soggy. Someone always brings something that needs to be completely assembled from scratch (“I just need to put it together real quick”) and monopolizes the kitchen for like an hour, slicing and dicing and chiffonading. There’s always like six different kinds of salads or pasta salads or baked pastas. I’m sorry, it’s just bullshit and I’ve had it.

Don’t even get me started on those monsters who are like “I made 500 cookies! Have some!” and then turn on you with “I’m on a diet, I really shouldn’t. Have some more cookies!” Oh, no. Don’t involve me in your weird feeding fetish power play. It’s not our fucking fault that you brought dessert for twelve times the number of people here.


4. It’s Not Our Fucking Fault That You Brought Dessert for Twelve Times the Number of People Here

That’s another thing: we as a nation are bringing WAY too much dessert to parties. Everyone hates themselves and thinks they’re fat to begin with. Why are we not factoring that in? Every gathering I’m at where dinner is served follows that up with two pies, three cakes, four dozen cookies, two types of brownies, and an ice cream option. Even dessert-eating people will have a slice of cake and maybe a cookie and call it a night. LET US DO THAT. People get all pissy when they know you actually eat sugar but won’t hoover down the entire rest of the table. “I can’t have these in my house.” Bitch, you know I can’t eat a full tray of cupcakes just so you won’t have to deal with your food issues. Bring that into your office tomorrow. Office people will eat anything.

5. Nobody Wants the Leftovers

I like to eat. I do! But if you have eight people cooking entrees for eight people, you’re going to end up with way too much food. Then you have a weird battle of politeness over leftovers with the host and end up hauling that shit back to Brooklyn, or more likely just throwing it in the garbage on your way to the subway, brand-new-Tupperware-that-you-had-to-buy-for-this-bullshit-and-all, because you’re so furious and bloated with lukewarm pasta and drunk that who cares. Who even cares.


Counterargument #1: So You Think the Host Should Just Cook For EVERYONE?

No way, man. Nobody has to make me dinner, EVER. That’s the point, really. If you want to have a dinner party but only feel like making one or two dishes, that’s cool! I hosted a birthday brunch last year where I made coffee and bacon and called it a day. I bought bagels and mimosa supplies and everyone had something to eat and got drunk in the middle of the day. People who wanted to bring things brought things, and everyone else brought booze, which was what I really wanted, anyway.

Counterargument #2: Why Don’t You Just Not Go, If You Hate Them So Much?

I know I’m a grown-ass adult who can refuse to go to a party. I end up going to potlucks anyway because I love my friends and like the idea of cooking and there’s always alcohol and people I like. I just kinda wish we could cut out the cooking part, because it’s usually better in theory than in practice.

Alright, I guess I actually have had a lot of fun at some potluck parties, like the time we ended up going around the table seeing who had done anal, or the time this dude told me the story of how a ghost from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory ended up cockblocking him from an NYU student, or pretty much any seder I’ve ever been to. And it IS really fun to try and “win” the potluck by busting out some Smitten Kitchen realness on everyone’s asses. I guess I’m just a sore loser when my shit ends up looking weird and lukewarm and everyone keeps poking at it going, “What is this?” and I have to jump in defensively before they start trash-talking it in front of me and “explain” the thing I stupidly tried to make for the first time that took me way longer than I expected. Ugh.

You know what? I’ll just bring salad. I’ll bring salad.

I just need to put it together real quick.


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