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Monday, March 02, 2015

Counting Coup at Potluck

Several native American tribes used to have this charming custom of "counting coup". It went like this. To prove your superior skills as a warrior, you took this club and rode toward your enemy very fast. Before horses you'd run at your foe or lurk in the bushes and jump out at your enemy. The purpose of this behavior was to designed to deliver a whack upside your enemy's head, that would raise a knot. Such a knot on the head ostensibly proved the courage of the warrior who delivered it.

You didn't try to kill the guy or anything. You were just trying to show him up. Humiliate him a little; that was the point. They are not the only tribe or culture to ever engage in such behavior.

Seventh-day Adventists have a long tradition of hosting regular Sabbath afternoon potluck dinners after services. Everybody prepares a dish on Friday, brings it to the church where the ladies warm up the most amazing casseroles and side dishes in the fellowship hall kitchen while the service is going on. One reason SDA services end pretty much on time on potluck Sabbaths is because of the smell wafting in from the fellowship hall.

Adventist potlucks are pretty genial affairs, with everyone loading their plates and generally feasting to celebrate the Sabbath and the goodness of the Lord. The food is amazing and traditionally, entirely vegetarian, of at least lacto-ovo vegetarian. If anyone does bring a meat dish, it gets set to one side on a special "meat" table where shame-faced individuals sneak over to indulge their weakness for flesh food. Otherwise potlucks in my church are relatively nonjudgmental affairs. Some of the best vegetarian food you'll ever eat is served up at these feasts. The food is pretty healthy too. Adventist generally live 5 or 6 years longer than most Americans and the diet is likely part of the reason why.

Unfortunately, there are always a few bony-fingered old birds, that show up at potluck with massive bowls of almost inedible lentils, salads chock full of kale or vegan concoctions that feel like you're doing some kind of penance when you eat them. Now, officially, Adventists don't believe in doing penance, but these folk pride themselves in producing dishes, which are healthier than anybody else's and making people eat them through the thick application of guilt. They generally plant themselves by the serving table, where they can bully everybody that comes by into trying whatever it is they brought. It's gluten-free, soy-free, fat-free, free of animal products and, they assure you, tastes great. Most of the time it doesn't, but you always feel obligated to take a big scoop of whatever it is in order to demonstrate your vegetarian street cred.

This week, I'm debuting my new weblog, "The Potluck Vegetarian" to memoralize the wonderful lacto-ovo vegetarian dishes that populate the serving tables of Adventist churches around the world. The first recipe went up this morning.  I decided to start off with Sheila's premier vege dish - Barbecue Tender-Bits. The blog is about potluck vegetarian food - the kind we bring to potluck to feed masses of hungry young people and their families.

My wife is the chef here and comes up with the recipes. I just chop up stuff and put it together for her. This is Adventist comfort food. We're going to test every dish personally with some help from Loma Linda and Worthington, who will be supplying some vege-meat for testing purposes.

This is not the kind of vegetarian cooking that allows you to count coup at potluck. It's just good-tasting food, everybody will love and will want the recipe for. And best of all, no chicken or cow had to make the ultimate sacrifice to make them. The blog will be a celebration of traditional Adventist lacto-ovo vegetarian food.

If you feel your nose turning up and you are smitten by an urge to tell me how terribly unhealthy one of the recipes is because it's not gluten-free or soy-free or radical vegan or has too much salt, sugar or spices, save your time. I won't post the comment. Who needs that kind of negativity. The Potluck Vegetarian will be a happy place. Take your criticisms to Facebook or Google Plus. Just not there.

And if you have a great recipe, you can send it to me there. I'll put a link on the site so you can email it to me. I'll credit you and if you'll send me a picture of yourself, I'll post that too. A picture of yourself with your amazing dish would be even better.  I looking forward to collecting all sorts of amazing recipes and posting them on The Potluck Vegetarian.


© 2015 by Tom King

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