Not everyone is fastidious about keeping a clean kitchen

Not everyone is fastidious about keeping a clean kitchen

With apologies to everyone forward and backward in time, social media has taught me to beware of your food. I don’t eat anything from potlucks anymore, thanks to the pictures you share.

One of the common jokes out there involves background clutter accidentally included in photos. You’re taking a picture of the new, funny T-shirt you just grabbed for a steal and fail to notice the wrinkled SpongeBob underpants lying on the sofa behind you. Or a mirror selfie reveals another person in the far background who seems oblivious to being included in the picture, or they surely would have put on clothes.

I don’t do potluck suppers anymore because I’ve seen plenty of pictures with cats perched on the kitchen counter as people chop carrots. Look closely and you can see the litter box on the floor by the dishwasher.

Or the adorable Golden Retriever watching supper come together with paws on the counter and adding flop slobber to everything within 4 feet.

Not everyone is fastidious about keeping a clean kitchen, and I have to admit my own occasional lapses in this regard, though the cat is far too old and cranky to try any counter-jumping foolishness. Not everyone is as fanatical as I am about hand washing or about storing the strawberries as far as possible from the raw chicken, and it’s a mighty big risk to assume others are being as careful as they should.

We all used to worry about the macaroni salad at picnics. It made sense to think mayonnaise would start to go off pretty quickly, likely because our brains saw something white mixed into it and thought “dairy.” While there are many things that should be avoided after a period of time at room temperature or higher, the acid in mayo actually helps keep stuff fresher for a bit longer. Potato salad may go bad, but it’s because of other things in there, not the mayo.

Of course, when we were kids, our mothers knew who in the family could be trusted to bring a dish to a gathering that was safe to eat, and they would warn us of the rest.

Grabbing a paper plate to fill for you, Mom would deny your request for the pasta salad from iffy aunt Georgina but serve up a big helping of lasagna from fussy cousin Florence.

Church suppers are probably much the same. Everyone seems to understand we aren’t eating the chili Doug brought, and Doug will take the entire pot home again.

Several years ago I was a member of the governing board of a nonprofit, and for the monthly meetings, we had a potluck for the seven or eight of us present. The practice began long before I arrived, and I was glad when someone introduced a motion to meet without food.

One person was expected to bring dinner for the whole group, and it was actually a bit burdensome, even though it only came your turn every couple of months. There was no way to avoid eating at least a bit because it would have been quite rude to turn down the entirety of the dishes. There was nothing to do but swallow and pray.

Perhaps the thing to do for any potluck is to assign the people with trusted kitchens to bring the main dishes, and everyone else stop and grab a bag of chips and some cookies on the way. Clean Kitchen Number One brings the ham. Clean Kitchen Number Two brings potato salad. Clean Kitchen Number Three, please bring one of your amazing cherry pies. Oh, and Black Fingernails Person, can you stop and pick up some Oreos for us? Just leave them in the package, please.

It’s like in backyard football huddles: “Tim, you hook left. Steve, you go up the middle.”

“What about me?”

“Right. Kevin, you go long.”

I love you, my friends, but I’m not eating your taco salad on a dare.

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load