Yesterday, like Americans all across our country, I went to a Memorial Day barbecue and spent several very pleasant hours eating, drinking and chatting with friends old and new. While the kids jumped around on a trampoline and ate watermelon, the grownups mingled, drinking sangria and talking about their lives, their kids, their work and (in the case of me and this new pal) the state of our country’s health care system.
There were hot dogs and hamburgers of course, plus “Ruski kebabs” prepared by one of the many Russian guests (and described as such by another). The Irishman tending the grill did a pitch-perfect job with the chicken: a chilies-fueled version of Indian cookbook-author Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe, procured by his wife — whom he met in Zimbabwe.
The invitation asked guests to bring a side or dessert and the table groaned with goodies, including those most American of backyard-barbecue-staples: guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips. Oh, and potato salad — made with purple Peruvian potatoes. I figured my favorite European-style bread would be a great contribution, seeing as it’s always a crowd-pleaser, so the night before, I mixed the dough, quadrupling the recipe to make two big double-loaves.
Unfortunately, I misread my notes and (despite having baked scores of those loaves, singly and doubly) added three times as much white vinegar to the mix as was called for. Perhaps that’s why the loaves failed to rise and looked more like a doorstop than the golden rustic bread I’m usually so proud of? I left the bread at home and stopped into my local Vietnamese deli for eggrolls — later sliced, arrayed on a pretty Mexican platter and served with Thai chile sauce. God bless America, indeed.
So tell me: when you’re invited to a potluck, what’s your gotta-bring-it dish?