This article started in 2012 when a member of our college who lives on campus with no access to a kitchen wanted to bring something to a potluck feast, but as it was a picnic lunch there were no cooking facilities available I am publishing it here so it can be available to a larger audience.
Potlucks without a kitchen
Every month our barony holds a pot luck feast, sometimes this is a lunchtime picnic outside in a park with no access to a kitchen. For those who don’t have access to a kitchen at home below are some ideas for period or period plausible foods you can buy ready made from most supermarkets.
When buying the major three foods to avoid are potatoes, tomatoes and chocolate. These are all native to the Americas and were not known to Europeans until the very end of SCA period and chocolate wasn’t available in solid bar form until the 19th century.
Apple/fruit Pies – either buy it fresh (bakeries are a better bet for fresh) or if you can only find frozen make sure it’s completely defrosted.
Baked Cheesecake – French cheesecakes (i.e. sweetened cream cheese on a biscuit base) are not period but baked cheesecakes are, you’re unlikely to find baked cheesecakes from the supermarket but if you have the cash to spare you can often get them from a baker who specialises in cakes.
Nuts (period nuts include hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts)
Biscuits (if it looks a home made and bit exotic e.g. pfeffernusse people will accept it as plausibly period)
Fresh fruit (make sure it’s in a form that can easily be divided up, if it’s not something small like cherries or grapes cut it up into individual serving sizes)
Salad – remembering to skip the tomatoes.
Bread – so long as it’s not square its good, if the bread is plain chances are somebody else will have brought stuff to go with it (e.g. soup or stew) if its got added bits like ham, cheese or fruit it will go down well on it’s own.
Cheese – hard or soft, so long as it doesn’t look like plastic and preferably not square a wheel (or a small segment of a whole wheel) will look more period.
All the usual pickled/preserved vegetables you would see on an anitpasto platter (except tomatoes again)
Salted/smoked meats – salami, ham etc.
BBQ/roast chicken – if you can serve it with a sauce you will look like you put in some thought and effort. There are some period sauce recipes on this page http://www.godecookery.com/allrec/allrec10.htm some rely on having cooking facilities or a food processor but others like carmeline sauce or galantine sauce just need the ingredients mixed together in a bowl.
You will need to bring your own serving dish and utensils, if you haven’t got a suitable serving dish (ceramic, wood or metal dishes are usually fine unless they have something blatantly modern printed on them) head to a dollar shop you can buy a large woven bamboo bowl for around $10.