Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gibanica, Hamsicles and Other Earthly Delights

All photos courtesy Jordan Martins
We had a great potluck Sunday--starting with a flock of pigeons dramatically taking flight, vacating the Comfort Station island to make way for the crew as they arrived with an overload of toothsome food. To name a mere few: Tamale Pie, Peach Cobbler, a bucket of Romesco and Meatballs, and a crowd favorite, Gibanica--a lovely pastry layered with a cheesy custard--also labeled as "Serbian crack". Johnny Casserole himself even stopped by with a mountain of Hoppin' John. Good luck for everyone!
A new addition to the potluck: Bring tupperware! Everyone is so generous with what they make, we've got a lot left over to take home. My Comfort Station partner and I are getting plump as we refuse to leave the building after everyone's gone until we've eaten every last bite of leftovers. Rest assured there was nary a bit of pickle-ham-cream cheese roll up to be found left in the place.
The potluck isn't without it's conundrums. For instance, what to do with those who come in, bring nothing, donate nothing, eat and leave without talking to a soul. Clearly the potluck is not about gaining anything tangible for ourselves or the Comfort Station; rather we are looking for a cosmic drawing even of sorts. Ultimately, we've decided that the price these woebegone souls have paid in dignity suffices. On the other hand, at each potluck, we've had people walk in, take a look around, both chit and chat with us, and even if they haven't a penny to spare, we make sure they get something to eat. You see, we're not looking to make money, or to be prom committee tyrants telling people where to sit; we just want the potluck to be a gathering at which some kind of exchange happens. Think of a G-Rated version of the "cash, grass or ass, nobody rides for free" bumper sticker. One guy even came in and played piano for about an hour--and I'm not talking about that one annoying guy at parties where there's a piano and he saw The Sting once, so he sits down and kind of plays a hacked-up drunken version and just ends up embarrassing everyone--this guy was carrying around sheet music and sat down and rocked the walls of the Comfort Station with something along the lines of Chopin for nearly an hour, maybe more. When he was done, we asked him to eat; when he said "aw shucks, I ain't got no money to donate and I didn't bring nothin' to serve," we forced some Colorado Green Chile down his throat. But it's interesting to note the statistics evening out as we go along--each potluck sees a couple skinny Logan Square hipsters stop by, throw some change in the donation jar, and eat the squarest meal they'll have all month. But it's awesome, because they hang out and talk with us, and we love it.

A guest once asked us what our goal was with the potluck. It's important to have goals, sure. But I think our goal with the potluck is, well, to kind of not have a goal. We're not looking to put up numbers; we're not looking to light cigars with Andrew Jackson's after everyone clears out. If we had to name a goal, it's to give folks in (or out of) the area a spot to come, max and relax on a Sunday afternoon with some really good, unfussy, unprecious food and some extremely decent people. And, if you're lucky, some amazing classical music.