One of my students was puzzled today by a reference in an article to fundraising by “box suppers.” I explained that it was my understanding that it is a method, popular in the Midwest, by which people donate packaged meals to a church or civic event and then buy them. It’s like the rummage sale in which you contribute crappy items for which you have no further use and then attend to buy other people’s crappy discards.
My wife’s parish in Columbus, Ohio, featured pie sales. Members would make pies, donate them, then buy them back.
The box supper is one form of the communal pot-luck meal, and it occurs to me that there must be a number of regional variants. Some places call them covered-dish suppers. And I believe I’ve heard Garrison Keillor refer to hotdish events among Minnesotans. I’d be interested in hearing from readers of this blog what variations they are aware of, and what regions those variations are associated with.
And I’m sure that there are also significant regional menu variations. The church potlucks in the little Presbyterian congregation I attended in my youth in Kentucky often featured, as a height of sophistication, the cheese ring, a kind of cheese loaf with a heap of peas in the center. Fortunately, there was always proper fried chicken, along with a selection of illustrious pies. (It was, however, necessary for my mother to take note of who contributed what and advise my sister and me, the level of hygienic preparation not being uniform across the table.)
I might add, in some exasperation, that people cooked those foods for the church dinners. It would not have occurred to them to go to a supermarket and buy some prefabricated dish to contribute. That people today do so without a thought and without a loss of caste in the community merely speaks to the degeneracy of our times.
Anyhow, what did you eat, and where did you eat it, and what was the meal called?