Oh for palate’s sake

It’ll be Christmas soon, and that means one thing is certain: potlucks.

I know we haven’t quite leapfrogged over Halloween yet, but I already see Christmas decorations for sale in the shops, so there.

I’ve always wondered why no one brings a giant bowl of plain white rice to a potluck.  I suppose it’s because we all secretly want to impress everyone with our ingenious dish that we just “threw together,” but really we are craving that moment when someone points to our dish and says, “You should try that, it’s good” and our face gets a little redder with pride, or maybe it’s the Cab Sauv.

But really, why not plain rice?  In a meal that you’d create at home, it would very likely be present, to soak up the spicy sauce of a curry, or lend a refreshing balance to brussel sprouts and pork tenderloin.  Instead at a potluck your tastebuds are assaulted with a myriad of flavours.  Just consider the salad selection: dill from the potato salad, basil from the Caprese salad, and something “Moroccan-inspired” from the couscous salad.  The incongruity is bewildering.

Oh, perhaps that’s what people want at potlucks.  They want to try a bit of everything, never mind that the tastebuds will get saturated, they want to be heady with the aromas of the world, Thai basil, Italian basil, whatever.  They want to spin their way home, carried on a cloud of cardamom and oregano.  It is the next day that they nurse themselves with a bowl of steaming rice, hunched over it with a blanket wrapped around their shoulders.

One of these days, I’m bringing a giant bowl of plain rice to a potluck.  I doubt anyone will point and say that it must be tasted, but I trust that secretly, deep inside (probably in places unknown to the conscious mind), they will be very grateful indeed.