There are few things that are more emblematic of Southern Evangelical culture than the church potluck. Many jokes (some funny) have been made at the expense of faithful churchgoers enjoying a smorgasbord-type feast after service. Deal with it, we like to eat and we like to eat with our friends and fellow believers. Of course, when you open up the menu to any item that any person wants to bring, things can get a little tricky. It takes wisdom and quick decision-making to ensure that your plate is filled with only the best foods available. That’s where REO comes in. We’ve spent the last few months meticulously sifting through every potluck food imaginable to create our top ten. These are the ten items that consistently rise to the top – the cream of the crop, if you will. Unless something in the preparation process goes horribly wrong, these are the ten items that will not fail you. Today, we give you one item that just barely missed the cut as well as numbers 10 through 6. Come back for seconds tomorrow to fill up on the top five.
I’m a picky eater. This is not news to anyone who knows me. So, for those kindred souls potlucks can be slim pickins. As I wander down the aisles I often find myself lost amidst a sea of food. Fear and dread build as I press onward into the unknown waters. Will I find something… anything to eat? Or will I collapse from hunger and exhaustion at the row’s end? But the moment when all hope seems lost my eyes discern a twinkle. A pan of golden goodness–lasagna! Shining and radiant like a lighthouse of hope in the darkest of night! Picky eaters gather near and find sanctuary inside the walls of its glass or aluminum pan. (Mark Sass)
Is there anything that sounds more appetizing than meatballs? Who is dumb enough to pass up eating balls made out of meat? Not this guy. At any church potluck I have attended, I am sure to look around as quickly as possible to find this most savory dish. Just find the crockpots. Sometimes, the crockpots will have lesser culinary items in them like roast beef or some sort of soggy vegetable, but if you are fortunate, you will find glorious meatballs swimming in a delicious BBQ sauce. I pile my plate high with the balls of meat with no concern for my fellow potluckers. It is their loss if they didn’t go for the meatballs first. (Phill Lytle)
9. Velveeta Rotel Dip and Chips
There are a few foods that I know are truly horrific for my health, but I can’t stop eating them. This is one of those. If you have ever looked at the Velveeta Rotel dip after it has cooled, you will know this is a substance you should never introduce into your gastrointestinal system. We all know it. Yet that doesn’t seem to matter to any of us because it tastes so good! Does this make us bad people? Yes, yes it does. Oh well. Pass the chips… (Phill Lytle)
8. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
There’s nothing to home-cooked food to me quite like a perfectly prepared piece of meat and a perfect side right next to it. Often in my mom’s kitchen, and at countless church potlucks around the USA, mashed potatoes and gravy fits that bill. I’ve loaded my plate with them a couple of times in my life to the point of drawing stares from the other people in line. (Gowdy Cannon)
7. Mexican Cornbread
I enjoy almost any type of cornbread, but this variety takes it up several levels. Mixing cheese and chili peppers into a traditional sweet cornbread recipe is simply genius. The best version of Mexican cornbread is made in a mini muffin pan. I am pretty confident that I could eat my weight in those muffins. Even though Mexican cornbread muffins are not as well known across the country as some items on our list, for me they are a clear number 1. One of the 10 worst moments of my life occurred in April of 2012. I was so far back in line at a church potluck that I missed out on the Mexican cornbread. The wounds from that day have healed, but I still bear the scars. #NeverForget (Mike Lytle)
Somehow I missed out on these as a small child and first tasted them as a teenager outside of my hometown. And I was totally impressed. It wasn’t just a miniature hotdog. It was a miniature hot dog in a pastry where both are packed with flavor. I have probably been to a few potlucks where 80% of what I ate was just these things, especially when it’s mostly finger foods and not a lot of meat is present. God bless the genius who invented them. (Gowdy Cannon)
So there’s the first half of this list. Feedback about it is strongly welcomed below. But don’t judge us too harshly yet! We have the top half coming tomorrow.