The holidays are the busiest time of year for potluck suppers. At least where I work. I remember last season , and how hard I worked and cooked to exceed myself presenting one interesting and novel dish after another.
Never again. What a naif I was. I even thought I might write a potluck cookbook.
Now I know better.
The words "novel" and "interesting" have no place in potluck cookery. I am not accusing one's co-workers of being culinary conservatives. I am saying they are culinary reactionaries. They do not want new. They want old. The same old. They want Rotel tomatoes pureed with melted Velveeta cheese dipped out of a crockpot onto tortilla chips. They want green bean casseroles topped with Durkee's french fried onions. (I dare you to try to find a can of said fried onions during the holidays. There aren't any. They are sold out). They want meatballs cooked in barbecue sauce ,and they want Ambrosia. And spinach artichoke dip. Hot dog bits wrapped in crescent rolls.
I once made the mistake of making "Jacob's Dream", an ancient and revered Scandinavian winter dish made of potatoes, cream, anchovies, and butter. 98% of what I brought in I dragged home. I was the only one who would touch it. The same thing with James Beard's Piquant Crab Salad last Christmas. There were a few takers, despite it being delicious.
If people have not seen it before, they will not eat it. You would be better off going to Whitt's and buying a giant tub of barbecue with vinegar sauce and two dozen hamburger rolls and putting that out on the community table. Barbecue you don't have to cart home. If there is any left over you can give it to one of the inevitable bachelors. That will save them from at least one meal of black-eyed peas right out of the can or tinned beef stew.
Having said this I will now point out that shrimp are always acceptable. I think if they were marinated in motor oil, people would still grab for them. The only shrimp I have ever seen rejected were hasty bought frozen ones in a round clamshell package. They were straight from Kroger, and spent their potluck time weeping ice into a sad little puddle. Since whoever bought them did not have a beagle to bring them home to, these shrimp went into the trash.
A pork loin is also a good idea.( The pig is revered in the south.) I cooked one in milk in the Italian style ,and everyone ate it.
But these are exceptions to the rules. No one wanted the Mexican Pork rinds I brought to a baby shower potluck a couple months ago. I had to bring them home, and what the dogs and I did not eat, the coons and the possums did.
So the moral of this story is this- put on your coat and drive to the grocery this minute. Fill your cart with canned french fried onions and Rotel tomatoes. Do it now.
The week before Thanksgiving will be too late!