by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist

When you think of a gathering, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Some of us may think “oh my goodness, I have to deal with my crazy family” or “what am I drinking to put up with everyone?”

Yes, I said it!

We don’t want to admit to a lot of thoughts we may have but thank goodness that no bubbles appear over our heads to what we’re thinking at the moment.

Then there’s a lot of us who start to think “what am I going to make?” Whether it be an appetizer, entrée, or dessert, sometimes it’s really hard to think of something to make.

I go to many gatherings with friends and with my local Elks Lodge family, and there are so many ideas that run through my head of what I’m going to make for a crowd.

To make it easier, I go off what type of gathering, how many I may be feeding, and if there’s a theme. It definitely breaks it down.

I was curious and started researching how potlucks began.

It goes back to the Middle Ages where people would have unexpected guests or travelers and they would be served whatever was left over or what they had so it was considered “luck of the pot.”

Sometimes it was a communal meal where everyone’s dish would be thrown together to create a “stone soup.”

In the 19th and 20th century America, it turned into a gathering where everyone brought a dish to share, not mixed.

So, there you have it. Nice and simple.  I’ve been reading that many people have a “potluck dish.”

There’s too many good things to have just one personally, but I get it. Do what you’re best at and what you’re known for.

How often do you have a gathering? With this pandemic behind us, it’s like we have a lot of catching up to do. Boils are hot right now of course with crawfish in season, but how often do you get together aside from boils and holidays?

Every month some friends, family, and I get together and we have a food theme and play cards. It’s something we all look forward to in order to escape reality for a little bit.

Then every quarter, a group of us gals get together at a different restaurant, do white elephant, and celebrate their birthdays during that quarter. It’s all about keeping strong bonds and food is a special way to do it.

We’re all hungry and crave a common ground, and potlucks are always one of the best ways to do that.

Can’t think of a theme? Throw a movie party and base the food around the genre.

Choose a decade, cuisine, breakfast items, choose items that start with a letter, finger foods, stuffed foods, pizza, fried foods (Lord help your arteries), fire & ice (hot and cold), fair foods, book theme, etc.

The list goes on. There are some really unique ideas out there that can be a lot of fun.

Add in games, second hand trophies, and prizes. We do this once a year and it’s awesome! It’s a party we look forward to every year.

So, plan something. Think of a group that would love to participate and take a census on a theme. These get-togethers bring a lot of unity and we should appreciate our time together.

With everything going on in the world, we could use all the love we can get and share with others.