Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PTA Pot-Luck Surprise

I am pot-luck-cursed, as a general rule. I’m a guy who gets to the line just as the deviled eggs have run out and sits at his table just as the next platter of them is placed. Alas.

Last night’s PTA pot luck at K.W. Barrett Elementary School was no different. I’m used to it, so it does not really bother me (I can happily eat anything), except when I have the kids with me. They are good eaters, but some pot luck fare just is not for them.

The KFC and the hot dogs were gone by the time we made our way through the line (and the pizza had not yet arrived—you see what I mean). Still, the curse is not that bad as we had salads and fruits; Hazel ate the pasta with chili (a favorite of hers); Harry dined primarily on fruit, crackers and rice, at least I think he ate the rice. I got salad, fruit and a very nice enchilada, very simple, but good, about the size of Churchill cigar (though I forgot the tomatillo salsa since I was helping my own kids). For a potluck, we ate healthy.

Now a number of us, myself included on the first pass through the line, missed the chicken meatloaf. It was a little off-putting as pot-luck foods can sometimes be; you know I’m right.

These foods are made by someone you don’t know with unknown ingredients. These, I’ve found, are often the family recipes that have made it through generations of cooks who grew up with this food at their own family gatherings, and expect them, like deviled eggs at a church social. Since they're made for gatherings, these foods are often of the "fill the pot with the ingredients and cook it" variety--easy and big. I'm not complaining, but sometimes you look and wonder, "just what's in this 'Noodle Surprise'?" I’m not saying this chicken meatloaf was this; in fact I’m guessing it’s a diet-driven recipe. Still, it was, as I say, a little off-putting.

Not only was this one tan, not really a meatloaf color, it was not cooked in a regular loaf pan, the type for bread, but baked in a jelly-roll pan, like brownies, so the slice came out about the size of a deck of cards.

I was up at the line a second time looking for pizza for Harry (it was gone for the second time), when I snagged the chicken meatloaf since the Churchill cigar enchilada had not been quite enough. Harry got grapes and watermelon.

Those of you who missed out, missed out. It was quite good, tasting much more like meatloaf than I’d expected. You could have had some if you’d risked it. Alas.

The gymnasium was cavernous, cacophonous and chaotic, as you might expect, but the hundreds of people seemed to find one another to sit and eat with, and I got to know a couple parents of my kids’ friends a little more. It was fun. And I’m hoping no one noticed just how many ginger snaps I ate.

I’m sorry I didn’t even think to break out the cell phone to snap a few photos.

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