Looking Back at the 2013 Annual Winter Potluck

Riva Soucie is a freelance food writer and staff writer for Public Affairs at the Embassy of Canada. In addition to volunteering with Slow Food DC, she’s a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and founding member of the Canadian Association for Food Studies, and she previously managed the Whistler Cooking School.

Being new to DC (and the USA) sometimes makes it hard to find out about simple, street-level socializing. Sometimes it seems like everything in our city revolves around work or politics…or policy or politicking. But that all faded into the background for a couple hours in March at SFDC’s Annual Winter Potluck. Even though the organization does have a partly political bent (i.e. the DC chapter promotes ‘good, clean and fair food’), the potluck was all about communal tables and crazy dishes, foodie jokes and secret recipes, shaking hands and digging in.

I suppose you can tell a lot about an organization’s culture by the food its members cook up and lug to potlucks. The spread included mushrooms escabeche, laced with melted onions, big metal pots with lids pushed down over duck and goat tamales, a jar of little local peppers, even a Vita Mix filled with a thick green vegetable smoothie for drinking. On the other side were Ibti Vincent’s day-pickled yellow beets, sliced potato frittata and a bright carrot root salad. In filling my plate, I made the lucky fluke of balancing a piece of freshly-based soda bread on a messy serving of traditional uova in purgatorio. Sopping the chewy bread in rich red tomato sauce and mild poached eggs was a tasting highlight for me.

Toward the end of our meal, Kathryn Warnes – SFDC President – turned to me and confessed to preferring savory tastes over sweet ones. And usually I would agree. Still, we both took a generous lap around the dessert station. And a good thing we did. Those pretzel and stout whoopie pies were delicate as air and deliciously salty! (Incidentally, whoopie pies are a Northeastern U.S., and particularly Pennsylvania Amish, traditional treat.) Plus, sweet almond points, profiteroles bébé on a tiered platter, spelt shortbread and one glorious apple pie made with Bramley’s Seedling apples (from Snail of Approval award winner Distillery Lane Ciderworks).

These dishes say a lot about the chapter’s ingrained sense of adventure and highlight an intense curiosity about local food and traditional foodways. Plus, they were all plain old delicious. For all of that, I’m so in! Already looking forward to the next SFDC adventure.

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