Joyce OreFall's arrival spurs thoughts of potluck fare

Fall is the name of the season, and along with cooler nights and colorful foliage come potlucks and covered-dish dinners, which as far as I can tell, are no different other the latter sounding a little more sophisticated.

These two social encounters increases as the weather gets colder and leaves dry and blow away. The pace continues until warmer weather when we call this event a “picnic” — the same, as far as I can tell, only slightly different. I have a love/hate relationship with them all.

These meals, often eaten with plastic utensils and paper plates, have several unique characteristics.

No matter how high the plate is heaped, it will not contain a sample of the one dish that brings rave reviews from every culinary artist within 50 yards. Should you especially like one particular dish and want to go back for seconds, the entire table, which only a moment earlier was a picture of gourmet delight, now resembles the high chair tray of a seven-month-old eating a banana and graham cracker.

At least nine of  main 10 dishes will contain tomatoes, and 70 percent of those will be covered with cheese. At least one person at your table will announce he is on a diet and munching on an unsalted breadstick and half a carrot. He will cast disapproving looks at your third piece of chocolate cake.

One family will have a cute little wicker basket filled with matching dishes.

To be honest, I love these events even though I have no cute little picnic basket and bring my offering in two paper sacks, one usually dripping from the tomato-based casserole that boiled over and the other containing my plastic plate huge enough to try at least one sample of everything.

I even liked the dinner I attended several years ago when all but one dish on the table contained beans and wieners. The plate of dessert containing the molasses cookies had but several crumbs by the time I got there.

The food is usually such that I want the recipe for my already overflowing collections. I especially enjoy the camaraderie that exists around the table where people break bread (even unsalted breadsticks) together.

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