Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Kitchen Where We Meet The World (Potluck 2011)

Dear Mouse,

"I don't mean to be a Posshole Asta", said Leon, looking over my shoulder, "But you have too much water in that pot."

Ah, out of the mouths of Lions...

Jamie Oliver's 'Chicken In Milk'.
Photo lovingly recycled from a Mouse Post Past

He meant, of course, "Pasta A**hole" (as in, someone who claims at least partly Italian background and has things to say about the way you're making dinner), but a slip of the tongue created this fabulous new job title. I told him he should start an Italian Cooking Advice Column, "Ask the Posshole Asta", and then I said to get out of my kitchen.
(He stayed though... because he was also cooking the meal.)

Yes, Mouse, it's a new year, bringing with it new vocabulary words, new humans (welcome to the world, Little Poet!! born 12/30/10), new relationships, and most importantly, new ways to approach eating things. My 2011 began with a Potluck Dinner Party.

What with Little Poet and the new year, I was inspired to do a little digging into the significance of the number 11. Like any good, new Agey friend, I printed out her astrological chart (the 'snapshot' of the planets' positions at the moment of birth). Little P had a few big planets in the 11th House, which meant approximately nothing to me. But what I learned straight off I really liked:

"The 11th is the house of friends... our first experience of tribal society, the playground where we meet the world." (

New Year's Eve 2011 found me close to friends indeed - very close, as three of us tried to prepare four dishes simultaneously in my very tiny kitchen. How did this happen, I wondered. Firstly, my plan had been for a solo New Year's (silent meditation retreat, two days of yoga, or similar). But there I was, two days to go and no closer to a plan than "Kripalu costs what?" Then I realized that several friends, none of whom know each other, were without plans. I offered to host a potluck dinner, and it was On like the silver top hats grudgingly worn by the staff at Cafeteria this year.

Secondly, 'potluck' is not a word that often escapes my (food snob?) lips.It always sounds like "good luck with that". Oh, sure, it's fine for an office lunch or maybe a church dinner? But it's an entirely different thing in your home. You're letting someone else deck your table with their god knows what creations, and even - gasp - commandeer your stove to prepare. A dinner party is something you either host or attend. Right? Something well-planned and harmonious. A potluck is, like, every man for himself. You won't be hungry but you also probably won't be satisfied. Right?

rigatoni alla vodka, photo courtesy But ours looked like it.
(I really need to unpack/locate my camera)


Leon, aka Posshole Asta: homemade vodka sauce, homemade marinara type sauce w/veggies.
J-Mas (Posshole Asta #2): rigatoni and fresh raviolis from place in Jersey, homemade (vegan) chocolate chip cookies, surprisingly tasty.
A-Mac: spinach salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, and goat cheese.
The Boo: Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk, as seen above. (Really, so easy and people freak out. Make it.) Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/bacon and rosemary.
The Mayor: red wine and mulled cider, witticisms.

To drink: kir royales for some, seltzer and pomegranate juice for the teetotalers, a word that I think must have been invented as an intoxication test (ie, if you can say or spell it, you're not drunk)

Highlights: the TWO pasta courses (oh, 2010 decadence past). The digestive walk around the block before midnight. The viewing of Times Square Fireworks from my fire escape! The after-dinner 'Double Dream Hands' rehearsal. The brief loud chorus of Auld Lang Syne. Going to sleep to the sound of hooting noisemakers on 7th avenue.

There's something about learning to feed and be fed at the same time. In 2011, let us play in the 11th house of communal creativity. Let us open our kitchens and our hearts to new tastes and new lessons. Sometimes, we can let someone else boil the water and make the sauce.

May I suggest your local Posshole Asta?


The Boo


Anonymous said...

okay - took a break from work - salivated over the pasta, will make the chicken, ymmm and clicked on DDH and laughed just thinking about your crew 'doing an activity'... together! friends. essential. thanks be to.

annie said...

was perfect.

Anonymous said...

Sounds and looked perfect....Arn.