Last fall, I experienced what is known as the “pot party,” a Dutch oven cookoff my aunt and uncle host at their house every year. It’s about community. It’s about friendship and family. It’s about cooking for hours and then eating. Eating really, really well.
All of their neighbors come over with their black heavy pots and boxes of spices and fillings and set up their cooking corner with metal tables and hot coals. There are a lot of secret recipes. A lot of margaritas made in a margarita homemade with a cooler and a garbage disposal motor. And the laughing — oh, the laughing.
When all the meats are tender, cheeses melted and breads gooey with sugary loveliness, all of the Dutch ovens are lined up in a row. The lids are removed, and the anticipation matches that of Christmas morning. We dig in, one scoop at a time, filling heavy paper plates with layers of home cooking.
I recently made a photo book for my aunt and uncle of the pot party, and I thought I would share it here. My uncle passed before he got to see it, but it’s been fun watching all of the neighbors and family pass it around and flip through the pages with big grins on their faces. This year, there are plans to continue the tradition, though we all know it won’t be the same without him there to take charge. Still, I think we’re all really looking forward to honoring him with this event that celebrates his community, his life, his hobby and a great feast. I covered it for the paper last year, but I’m already thinking of recipes I can cook up when I participate later this year for the first time.
Here are a few photos from the day; these are some selections from the book.