is a gathering of people where each person or group of people contributes a dish of food prepared by the person or the group of people, to be shared among the group. Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...
s include: potluck dinner
, Jacob's join
, Jacob's supper
, faith supper
, covered dish supper
, bring and share
, shared lunch
The word pot-luck
appears in 16th century England, in the work of Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...
, and was there used to mean "food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot". The sense "communal meal, where white guests bring their own food", appears to have originated in the late 19th century or early 20th century US, particularly in the Western United States, either by influence from potlatch
A potlatch is a gift-giving festival and primary economic system practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and United States. This includes Heiltsuk Nation, Haida, Nuxalk, Tlingit, Makah, Tsimshian, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw, and Coast Salish cultures...
or possibly by extension of traditional sense of "luck of the pot".
To the Irish, a potluck was a meal with no particular menu. Everyone participating brought a dish for all to share. The term comes from a time when groups of Irish women would gather together and cook dinner. They only had one pot so they cooked the meal together with whatever ingredients they happened to have that day.
Potluck dinners are often organized by religious or community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...
groups, since they simplify the meal planning and distribute the costs among the participants. Smaller, more informal get-togethers with distributed food preparation may also be called potlucks. The only traditional rule is that each dish be large enough to be shared among a good portion (but not necessarily all) of the anticipated guests. In some cases each participant agrees ahead of time to bring a single course, and the result is a multi-course meal. Guests may bring in any form of food, ranging from the main course to desserts. In the United States, potlucks are associated with crockpot dishes, casserole
A casserole, from the French for "saucepan", is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan...
s (often called hot dishes in the upper Midwest), dessert bars and jello salad
Jell-O salad, also called gelatin salad, jelly salad, and congealed salad is the common name for salad made with flavored gelatin, fruit and sometimes grated carrots or, more rarely, other vegetables...
One variation is the progressive dinner
A progressive dinner or safari supper is a dinner party in which each successive course is prepared and eaten at the residence of a different host. Alternatively, each course may be eaten at a different dining area within a single large establishment. It is essentially a variant on a potluck...
or safari supper, where a group of neighbors physically move between different houses for each part of the meal. Typically, this involves the preparation of one course only (a starter, main course or dessert, etc.), and visiting different neighbors for the other courses. Although it does require careful and complex planning, the idea is relatively straightforward: for example, Neighbor A makes a starter, and is visited by Neighbors B and C. After this, Neighbor A moves to a different house, Neighbor D, and is joined by Neighbor E. Neighbors B and C go on to different houses also, but not the same one. Finally, a similar pattern for dessert: Neighbor A moves to Neighbor F's house, joined by Neighbor G. This style of eating has recently become popular as a charity fund raiser in rural Britain, and is seen as a good way of meeting different neighbors in the community by virtue of each participant having 6 separate guests.
Another variation on the potluck dinner is the rota meal. Participants take turns providing food for the entire group, rather than each participant bringing a dish. For regular meals with a fairly consistent set of participants, this dramatically reduces the amount of preparation effort required.