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pot-luck-fsts-msg - 11/24/13


Handling pot luck feasts in the SCA.


NOTE: See also the files: headcooks-msg, feast-serving-msg, feast-ideas-msg,

feasts-fish-msg, feast-menus-msg, feast-decor-msg, kitchen-clean-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: fixit at delphi.dasd.honeywell.com

Subject: Re: Lothar and pot lucks

Organization: Honeywell Inc. DASD

Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1993 21:32:52 GMT


Lothar notes:

[first how a pot-luck fails]


>      The advantages of this feast are that it requires little or no

> kitchen or serving staff and you don't have to worry about left-overs.

> The disadvantages a) completely unauthentic (unless you count alms

> giving as a feast), b) have to stand in line for hours waiting your

> turn. Ah yes, the medieval ambience of an Army chow line...., c) you

> only have a 1/3 chance of getting well fed, d) no control over

> presentation or temperature of the food by the cooks, e) no portion

> control.


Consider this approach.


Let everyone sit down and place their contribution on the table in

front of their own service.


Next everyone stands up.  All folk may take something from their own dish.

(At least you know THAT is edible.)


Now move in an orderly fashion (you know, clockwise or something) to the

next dish, and the next and the next until your plate is full.


Return to your own seat and start eating.




Everyone starts at the head of the line, by some food.  

Everyone gets something from someone else.

Everyone gets roughly the same portions.

Everyone starts eating at about the same time.


Feel better now?





From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Lothar and pot lucks

Date: 17 Nov 1993 22:51:15 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


In article <1993Nov17.143252.1 at delphi.dasd.honeywell.com>,

<fixit at delphi.dasd.honeywell.com> wrote:

>Consider this approach.

>Let everyone sit down and place their contribution on the table in

>front of their own service.

>Next everyone stands up.  All folk may take something from their own dish.

>(At least you know THAT is edible.)

>Now move in an orderly fashion (you know, clockwise or something) to the

>next dish, and the next and the next until your plate is full. ...


If it's a very small gathering--everyone sitting at a single table would

be ideal--then that could work.  In a large gathering, many tables

packed closely into a room, it generates utter chaos.  They did it

at the recent Mists Investiture, and it _was_ chaos.  While there was

plenty of food, it was virtually impossible to get to it.  I sat down

and drank lots of Calistoga water. (And I don't care if it's OOP.)


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin          Dorothy J. Heydt

Mists/Mists/West                          UC Berkeley

Argent, a cross forme'e sable           djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: fixit at astro.dasd.honeywell.com

Subject: Re: Lothar and pot lucks

Organization: Honeywell Inc. DASD

Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1993 15:08:52 GMT


I (Gunwaldt) describe a 'round robin' pot luck.


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin then notes that

> If it's a very small gathering--everyone sitting at a single table would

> be ideal--then that could work.  In a large gathering, many tables

> packed closely into a room, it generates utter chaos.  They did it

> at the recent Mists Investiture, and it _was_ chaos.  While there was

> plenty of food, it was virtually impossible to get to it.


Ah the joys of autocrating.  I have seen this method fail due to poor

table arrangement.  I have also seen it work quite successfully for a

meal of 200+ (of course this might still be considered small in the Mists:)

Once a hall gets crowded, the very last thing you want is to encourage

everyone to get up and move around all at the same time.





From: fixit at astro.dasd.honeywell.com

To: Mark Harris

Subject: pot-luck serving

Organization: Honeywell Inc. DASD

Date: 29 Nov 1993


Good health to you Lord Stefan.


In regards to your questions about 'round-robin' serving at pot luck

meals, yes we have done this locally.  From a small gathering of about

30 up to a feast of over 200 (large by local standards.)


(Your words in quotes.)

"What happens when some have filled their plates and sat down."


Everyone is taking food at the same time.  Our experience shows that

most people's plates fill at about the same rate and a great number

'fill up' within a few seconds of each other so most folk are ready

to sit down at about the same time.


"Doesn't this lead to conjestion?"


If the table space requires both sides to be used then some conjestion

does occur.  If the hall is crowded you really don't want all the people

milling around at the same time anyway.  (Crowded can be to little floor

space in relation to tables, not just too many people.)  It definately

works better if you have enough space to just use one side of the tables

for seating.  Our most conjested attempt was caused by using round

tables. We plenty of floor space but still had mass confusion because

we couldn't establish a reasonable 'flow' to allow access to the food.

It really turned into a bazarre with people advertising their contributions.

- Hey! I have compote! over here!! Plenty of compote! -


"Or do you perhaps leave one end of each table free of people

for food rather than placing the food in the center of the table?"


When seating is tight we have tried to leave 1 seat open at each table

and move all the dishes there after the first round.  Another attempt

was to hold back two tables (which made the seating really tight) and

then set them up and move the remaining food there after everyone had

made a first pass.  Sort of like an 'after the fact' buffet table.

This was more work for the support staff but reduced the overall

crowding on the tables and for those getting additional helpings.  It

also made it really obvious when the food was gone so people didn't

have to go stalking all the tables looking for scraps.


Hope our experiences save you some headaches





Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 21:16:01 -0800

From: "Anne-Marie Rousseau" <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: Re: SC - Feast and Budget planning


We also run frequent potlucks, and these are usually very successful.

There's a few tricks, at least up here. Having the hosting barony provide a

meat main dish (paid for out of event fees), works well. Then you make sure

to hit up your friends who cook and ask them to bring Three quiches or

something along those lines, ie use them as shills. We also tend to assign

dishes by fun categories, ie persona (British Isles brings main dish,

mainland Europe brings side dish and middle eastern brings dessert), or by

how far they travelled (the folks assigned bread and cheese are those with

no kitchen within easy access). Oh, and make sure that folks know how much

food is an appropriate contribution. I say a dish that serves 8-10 people

is good for ONE person. Ie, a pie. A pie is not a contribution for you,

your lord and your three teenage kids.


I also find that someone in a Position of Authority standing up and going

over the rules for happy potlucks helps, ie:

1. there's lots of dishes. dont feel you need to take some of everything

2. if there's one thing you really love, you don't need to load your plate

up with it. Ask for the recipe so you can make it at home.

3. Look ahead of you at the amount of food on the table.

4. Look behind you at the line of people still to come.

5. Be sensible and polite and guage your portions accordingly.



Basic common sense stuff like that.


- --AM



Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 23:08:08 -0700

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Pot Luck Part two....


Hi all from Anne-Marie


on potlucks....


I have had great success with potlucks in the past. The secret, my friends

is to fix it! Success is good planning, well executed.


If you're organizing the potluck, be sure to twist the arms of your friends

to bring something good, and lots of it. I often will personally bring a

large crock pot of bukkenade or other stew like substance or else two or

three tartes of flesche. Offer to provide easy recipes that are

transportable to anyoen who asks, and a few who dont. Ask the hosting

branch to donate money for a main dish, or tell everyone that the barony is

doing the bread (so hopefully not everyone brings bread).


Remind folks that they're supposed to bring a dish to serve 8-10 people.

Thats one dish for each person in their party! I tell folks to bring as

much food per person, as they expect to eat, volume wise. One pie is

sufficient for one adult person. Sure, no one would eat a whole pie, but

they'd have a slice of pie, and a hunk of meat and a slab of cheese, and a

piece of fruit, and...


Bring a LARGE stack of 3x5 cards and waterproof pens, like ballpoints, and

as people bring their food, give them a card to wrtie down what it is, and

what the ingredients are. Be sure to have extra serving gizmos, clearly

labelled with your name.


Arrange the tables so that you don’t end up with one big line. Go for two

lines at least. Have helpful cheerful people move up and down the line

offereing nibblies to the line waiters, or else call folks up table by

table so they can at least sit whle they wait.


Have some well respected person stand up at the start and review the

"rules"...dont take all of something, dont stick your fingers in the common

pot, dont take more than you can eat...look behind you at the people still

to come and look ahead at the amount of food left. Be polite, you can

always go back for seconds, etc etc. you'd be suprised how many people dont

know how to act. A gentle reminder goes a long way.


we are blessed here in Madrone to be surrounded by good cooks, and also by

good medieval cooks. I will attend potlucks here, and be assured of a

wonderful meal, even if I choose (as I often do) not to eat anything that

isnt medieval.


would that this were the case everywhere...there are some places where I

will NOT eat the potlucks, or the feasts, and before any feast I usually

call the head cook and find out what's on the menu. Nothing personal, just

wanna know if my $12 or whatever would be better used at that little French

restaurant I passed on the way to the site...


in any case, if you preplan a bit, and set up some skills to bring "good

stuff", you should be fine.


- --AM



Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 09:28:48 -0400

From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)

Subject: Re: SC - Pot Luck Part two....



>>         Just a random question- are potlucks (or even the concept) period?

>> I don't know of any evidence that people brought dishes to a communal

>> feast (though I suspect there might have been something like that in small

>> villages), but we do have accounts opf community feasts sponsored and paid

>> for by individuals, families, guilds, confraternities, etc. I would think

>> a host mighthave been offended if someone brought food to a feast.



Hello! IIRC, Madge Lorwin, in Dining with William Shakespeare, gave a brief

description of a 1650s-ish potluck get-together involving King James.

Anybody got the book handy? I think it's in the last chapter.





Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 09:39:10 -0500

From: Stephanie E Rudin <mercedes71 at juno.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Pot Luck


Usually, If I know I will have access to eletricity, I will take barley

and beef broth and mushrooms and onions and just let them cook all day on

low in a crock pot.  Not a period recipe but it is perioid and it

introduces people to barley........  I've done the same with rice in a

slow cooker, also.





Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 01:44:28 EDT

From: Gerekr at aol.com

Subject: Re:  SC - Making Buffet-style serving work


>I've always thought that this would work ONLY if you had a server per dish

>(lunch ladies/gents) serving up reasonable portions.  I too have seen the

>front getting everything and the last getting almost nothing.


Well, if the attending Hats go last, and everyone KNOWS they're going to

be going last, there's more likely to be better manners at the front of

the line!  That system worked quite nicely in my area in the (ancient)

past. Don't know if it's still used.  Not so many potlucks these days.


It does help to portion some kinds of things in advance... slicing large

hunks of meat, for example.  This also helps keep the line moving, if

people don't have to stop and haggle with insufficient implements... and

pre-cutting things can help suggest serving sizes.





Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 23:16:33 -0700

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re:  SC - Making Buffet-style serving work


hey all from Anne-Marie


up here potlucks and buffet lines can work as well. As was previously

suggested, having a couple servers to help guide portion control is a good



another thing that has worked well is to have someone well known stand up

and give a little chat "I see we have lots of new people here. Welcome!

just so you know how this works, in a minute, we'll be asking you to go up

and get your food. Please be polite and take only a single portion...look

at the amount of food on the table, then look behind you at the number of

people who still need to go through the line. Please dont touch the food

with anything but the attatched utensils, and of course if there's anyone

still hungry, we'll be happy to let folks go through second (and third :))

times after everyones had a shot at going through once...." Educates the

new folks and if the people who should know better hear it again, that cant

hurt either....


We also will have a couple people who hold some representative stuff back

so half way through new food comes out...this saves the folks on the end of

the line from getting stuck with the KFC coleslaw :).


works well for us!


- --AM



Date: Thu, 08 Nov 2001 07:49:55 -0800

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Medieval cooking for non-cooks


Hey all from Anne-Marie


Solveig discusses the inappropriate nature of the potluck.


I would suggest, however, that a potluck serves several functions:


1. when strapped for cash, students in student housing can often trade in

meal punches for foodstuffs. I did this for years, in some cases, bringing

raw ingredients like rice, etc for other people to cook, and in some cases

bring loaves of bread, cheese, even roast chickens.


2. part of the medieval experience is learning new things. A potluck allows

everyone the opportunity to learn something new. An assigned potluck (ie

"you bring this recipe and you bring this recipe") provides this

opportunity as well as guarenteeing that the food that shows up will be



3. Not all potlucks involve a buffet line. Out here we often do served

potlucks. Folks bring food and drop it off at the kitchen. A handful of

skilled volunteers :) prep and dish up the food and then serve it to the

assembled throngs. Its actually more medieval in some ways as not everyone

gets every dish.


4. As an impoverished student, you may not be willing to pay $5 for a feast

ticket. As a not so impoverished university employee, you may be willing to

pay more. A potluck allows people to spend what they can without the

stigma. Broke? pick a cheap recipe. Feeling flush? bring a main dish

object. This is how we do it in our household and it works great.


please dont disuade a group of new people from trying something they've

never done before. The fact that they're playing with medieval recipes is a

great start and I for one am delighted, no matter how they organize it.


--Anne-Marie, who started out doing assigned potlucks in college and

graduated to full feasts within a couple years :).



Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2001 10:11:20 -0800 (PST)

From: Ginny Claphan <mizginny at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Medieval cooking for non-cooks

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


We host a Yuletime potluck in our march (Tirnewydd). During the day, we have a set amount of tokens that we receive at the gate to be used for gaming or what have you. We also received *extra* tokens for bringing a period dish our persona would have eaten. At the end of the day, the tokens are used to determine the order of precedence in the Gift battle. It worked out nicely last year.


Tirnewydd is also blessed with a pack of enlightened foodies so we eat *very* well.


My hubby Sartaq, who at the time was an expert at the Mac & cheese dish and has since improved, took a receipt from Soup for the Qan which was essentially a lamb, rice, and garlic stew. Turned out to quite tasty and we brought home an empty dish. I made a marzipan shield with the arms of the barony to which our march belongs (Middle Marches - blessedly simple, argent a chevron inverted gules, in chief a laurel wreath vert. :))





Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2001 07:28:40 -0500

From: johnna holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] pot lucks


Stefan li Rous wrote:

> While not period, I like pot lucks because they can be used to

> encourage folks to try period foods.


I would like to comment that the term pot-luck is within

the timeframe of interest for the Society.

OED lists :

'pot-'luck. One's luck or chance as to what may be

in the pot, i.e. cooked for a meal: used in

reference to a person accepting another's hospitality

at a meal without any special preparation having been

made for him;


The earliest quote:

1592 Nashe Four Lett. Confut. Ded., That that

pure sanguine complexion of yours may never be famisht with pot



Johnnae llyn Lewis  Johnna Holloway



From: ThoraOdottir at aol.com

Date: April 16, 2004 9:19:41 AM CDT

To: ansteorra at ansteorra.org, dragonsfire-tor at ansteorra.org, elfsea at ansteorra.org, loch-ruadh at ansteorra.org

Cc: Subject: [Ansteorra] 6 Simple Rules for a Happy Pot Luck


Greetings to the Populace of our fair Kingdom attending Guardian of the Tor,


It was brought up to me that some rules for the pot luck need to be set down

to ensure that everyone has the most enjoyable dinner possible that evening.


As this combined pot luck is rather a new thing for a lot of people, here we



1) If you expect to eat at the pot luck, you are expected to bring items

   for it (food, cleaning supplies, labor, etc.)  It is not a free feast

   for noncontributers. Even the poorest members can bring some bread

   or a couple of gallons of bottled water.

   Otherwise, you are on your own for this meal.


2) Contributions to the potluck should be prepared in order to feed 10.  

   10 Ansteorrans with large appetites from a hard fought combat, work,

   or general enjoyment of the event.


3) People supplying food need to remember to bring serving ware (spoons,

   forks, knives) as needed for their dishe(s). These are often forgotten.

   Remember them.


4) You need to remove leftovers/etc when the meal is done, so the

   tables and such can be cleaned.


5) If you wish to ask someone for some of the leftovers of a dish you

especially enjoyed,

   make sure you have brought some ziplock bags of your own.


6) You are responsible for cleaning up after yourselves.


Most of all enjoy yourselves.   Following these simple rules will allow all

of us to enjoy ourselves and each others company.


Bon Appetite,


Thora Olafsdottir

Dragon's Fire Tor



Date: Wed, 06 May 2009 20:26:26 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Potluck was I is in teh East Kingdom!

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Potluck goes back to Elizabethan England

One's luck or chance with regard to what may be in the pot (i.e. cooked

and available to eat), used originally and chiefly in reference to a

person's accepting another's hospitality at a meal without any special

preparation having been made.

*1592* T. NASHE


/Strange Newes/ Ep. Ded. sig. A2, That, that pure sanguine complexion of

yours may neuer be famisht with potte-lucke. **





<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org