Since I wouldn't have time to go grocery shopping after work yesterday (okay, technically I'd have time, but I wouldn't have the desire), I thought I could just raid the cupboard of ingredients I'd bought with earlier baking intentions.
"I'll bring cookies," I said.
"No!" my boss said. "No cookies!"
"What?" I asked. "What do you mean no cookies?"
"No cookies! You have to bring real food, and it has to be ethnic food." He even wrote NO! next to the line on the sign-up sheet where I'd written cookies.
First of all, the idea of "ethnic food" is funny in itself. Everybody had volunteered to bring dishes native to their own cultures. My coworkers consist of 3 Afghanis, 2 Vietnamese, 1 Chinese, 1 Nicaraguan, 1 Laotian, and me. Dishes from these cultures would--to Americans--be considered "ethnic," but to their makers and eaters, they're just food. And the statement seemed especially funny coming from him, one of the Vietnamese people.
Anyway, I asked why, if my cookies were vetoed, ______ was allowed to bring almond cake. He said it was because almond cake is expensive. My offer to bring lobster cookies to meet the expensive criteria was denied.
So it was I came to be waking up at 6am to make flautas, which would be totally rumpled and soggy by lunch time today.
Today's New Activity: Workplace Potluck
It's amazing that in my 18 years of working outside the home, I've never had the opportunity to opt in or out of a work potluck. I didn't mind missing out on the chance because I feel like they're kind of a strange concept. They're not strange in general. I can totally see a potluck for an afternoon BBQ or a big family dinner. But work potlucks are strange. One has to either make something the night before that will last and be good reheated the next day, wake up super early to make something that stands a chance of keeping until noon, or buy something midday and bring it in, which to me kind of defeats the purpose of potluck--I like the idea mostly because of the promise of sampling other people's recipes.
What's more, piles of food sitting out getting room-temperatured for hours seems like a disaster waiting to happen. The Health Department would say so anyway.
As it turned out, I should have just bought and brought, since that's what all but one other person ended up doing (he'd spent the evening making cream cheese and crab wontons....dang!). It turned out to be utter fried food overload. Ridiculous amounts of heavy, greasy food were consumed. And still there was enough food leftover to feed us all for three more days.
One thing that makes potlucks less than appealing to me is that almost everybody elects to bring meat dishes. The wonton maker had thoughtfully prepared some cream cheese-only wontons for a coworker who doesn't like seafood and me, but the rest of it was a big ole meat fest. And though I'm usually loathe to proselytize on the merits of vegetarianism, the whole meaty potluck thing really gives me pause and causes me to question why it is we feel the need to eat so much meat in this country. Many people really and truly feel that a meal just isn't a meal unless it involves some amount of dead animal on the plate. This is crazy when one stops to consider the substantial effort it used to take to kill, cure, store, and prepare meat.
I read this week that Mark Zuckerberg, in an attempt to more fully understand and appreciate the concept of sustainable farming, has elected to only eat meat that he himself kills for the duration of a year. People love to hate on Mark Zuckerberg, but I really appreciate this effort. He says he's eating a largely vegetarian diet as a result, and I feel like everybody would if they took the time to fully know what it takes to raise/produce meat for food. And while I'm not going to try and convince anybody to go vegetarian, I do think that almost everybody around could stand to consume less of it. I, however, could stand to consume less starch and fat, and fewer carbs. So nyeh.
I really need to start thinking more about what I eat. I don't eat nearly enough fruits or vegetables, and lately I haven't been taking the time to cook respectable meals. I had this in mind when I went grocery shopping the other day. For the first time in a while, I shopped for actual meals, which I can prepare in large batches and eat for lunch. I always feel better the fewer preservatives and less fast-ish food I consume, and it's time to get back to that. Kinda got off the topic of potluck here, but it's ok. I'm just saying that next time one is planned, I'll bring something that I and everybody else stands a chance of digesting.