Potlucks are dumb and bad.
Let’s just call a potluck what it really is: A way to entertain without the host having to do much work.
They’re sold as a “fun” way for everyone to “pitch in” and enjoy some “good food,” but that is an ugly lie like possibility of world peace. If I’m leaving the comfort of my home to go to an event or party elsewhere, I’m not looking to participate in the hosting duties. I expect some degree of hospitality and I certainly don’t expect to participate in feeding a bunch of people I didn’t invite to a place I don’t live.
If providing food for your guests is too much work, just don’t have food! The burden of feeding people you’ve invited into your home should not be passed on to the guests.
I’ll conceded that you’re planning on having people over they probably do need to be fed in some capacity. However, your home ain’t a restaurant. I don’t go to a friend’s house expecting some elaborate spread. All I really need is a couple snacks to keep my blood alcohol level under control. The joke is on me if I think book club comes with a free dinner. Have you ever been to the frozen food aisle of Trader Joe’s? You can’t get the job done for a Harriet Tubman and a working oven.
What is particularly annoying about potlucks is the expectation that everyone attending is a decent cook whose food you would voluntarily choose to consume. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this yet in your life, but a lot of people are bad at making food!!! I dislike potlucks for the same reason my parents had to force me to play a team sport: I can’t trust you people.
“Why not just buy something instead of cooking yourself?” you ask. Well, well, well let me tell you about the hierarchy of the potluck. Let’s say I come in with something I’ve clearly purchased twenty minutes ago—the grocery store price seal still intact— and you’ve got your fancy GLASS TUPPERWARE CONTAINER like some sort of billionaire. What then, huh?
I don’t need a potluck to make me feel bad about how I’m living my life. I keep myself fed. I’M ALIVE, AREN’T I? Just because Sheila took up baking after her latest breakup doesn’t mean she deserves a warmer welcome to the party than I.
On the flip side of that, on the off chance that I decide to spend a bunch of time actually preparing something, I’m gonna be rather pressed if you roll up with a bag of Oreos.
Potlucks are also inherently unequal. Because you have to have a variety of foods, things are usually divided in some arbitrary way. The result is somebody bringing a dessert versus a hot side dish versus some bullshit salad. Some poor schmuck may be stuck with bringing a goddamn entree. PROTEIN IS EXPENSIVE, YO. Which again brings me back to the most pertinent question: Why am I being asked to co-cater your function with my time and money?
Communism didn’t work and neither do potlucks.