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What's a Potluck?

The ABM College campus is host to many potluck meal events each year. And while almost everyone has used the word, how many people know the origin of the word "potluck?"

Whenever people are invited to a party, picnic, or other eating occasion, they might be told to bring a "potluck dish."

So, why is a co-prepared meal called "potluck"?

The story behind this word is that in olden days it was customary for a housewife to keep a pot on the fire into which all scraps of meat and vegetables were thrown. She kept the pot boiling all day so stew was always available when hungry family members or neighbors just stopped in.

Even though the stew was always available, what it tasted like was a matter of "potluck."

Students enjoying a large potluck.

Traditionally, potluck is a gathering of people where each person or group of people contributes a dish of food to be shared among the group. While the gathering is called "potluck" the dish itself is also called "potluck."According to Wikipedia, the word potluck was used in 16th century England to mean "food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot." In the U.S. in the late 19th century or early 20th century, it was a "communal meal where guests would bring their own food." A potluck was a meal with no particular menu for the Irish. Everyone participating brought a dish for all to share. Irish women would gather together and cook dinner. They had only one pot so they cooked the meal together with whatever ingredients they happened to have that particular day.Potluck dinners are often organized by religious or community groups. Smaller, more informal get-togethers with distributed food preparation may also be called potlucks.

The Rules for Potluck

  • Each dish must be large enough to be shared among a good portion, but not necessarily all, of the expected guests.
  • Guests may bring in any form of food, ranging from the main course to desserts.

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