The word pot-luck appears in 16th century England, in the work of Thomas Nashe, and was there used to mean “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot”. The sense communal meal, where guests bring their own food”, appears to have originated in the late 19th century or early 20th century, particularly in the Western United States, either by influence from potlatch or possibly by extension of traditional sense of “luck of the pot”.
To the Irish, a potluck was a meal with no particular menu. Everyone participating brought a dish for all to share. The term comes from a time when groups of Irish women would gather together and cook dinner. They only had one pot so they cooked the meal together with whatever ingredients they happened to have that day.
Potluck dinners are often organized by religious or community groups, since they simplify the meal planning and distribute the costs among the participants. Smaller, more informal get-togethers with distributed food preparation may also be called potlucks. The only traditional rule is that each dish be large enough to be shared among a good portion (but not necessarily all) of the anticipated guests. In some cases each participant agrees ahead of time to bring a single course, and the result is a multi-course meal. Guests may bring in any form of food, ranging from the main course to desserts. In the United States, potlucks are associated with dishes,casseroles (often called hot dishes in the upper Midwest), dessert bars and jello salads.
Potluck is increasingly gaining popularity as an entertaining method as it reduces the cost to the host of an event. Potluck dinners, brunches, and even potluck wedding receptions are being hosted as alternatives to traditional event hosting or catered events.
Fellowship offering as per Jewish sacrificial ritual included the boiling of the meat after the fat had been burned off on the altar. A representative of the priest would then go around to the individuals boiling the meat and with a long handled three prong fork randomly plunge the fork into the boiling pot and whatever portion of the meat came out on the fork was for the priest. This could rightly be considered to be the “Luck” of the “Pot,” both for the priest and for the person making the sacrifice. The Fellowship Offering was a communal dinner by a religious community as well as an act of sacrifice. It is not surprising that the term “‘pot luck’ dinner’ is used in this connotation for church social dinners.
55 people showed up for Tuesday’s Pot Luck Supper and it appeared all had a great time as we visited with each other and shared news and perhaps some tall stories. Last year there were 35, attendance increased a whopping 57% this year.
Once again the table Bonney and I sat at was called up to the buffet dead last. But things were different this time. There was more than enough food and even enough for some to go up for seconds. As usual desserts were plentiful and great! If you haven’t been to a Cloister Pot Luck, try next month’s get-together, and bring a dish.