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美国的盛餐会 Potluck in America

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Pot Lucks are popular party events in the United States of America and it is a large meal get-together organized by a family, a church, a group of students, or a department in a college, where everyone brings a different dish and all of the participants join each other for a fabulous feast of specialties. Because all sorts of things are brought to the table, everyone gets out more than they put in. It may sound old-fashioned, but I think it fits our modern lifestyle though it is somewhat against Chinese tradition that the host usually prepares all the food for the participants invited.

盛餐会在美国颇为流行,这种大型餐会的举办方可以是家庭、教堂、一群学生或学校的一个系,每个人都要出一道菜,然后大家互相分享美味佳肴。所有的食物都放到桌子上,因此每人能吃上的食物远比带来的要多。这听起来有点老套,不过我想尽管其与中国由主人为客人准备所有餐点的传统做法有些背道而驰,但还是与现代生活方式相适应的。

The idea of the potluck party is that no one family or an institution is burdened with the cost and preparation time of the meal and everyone gets to try something different that usually isn't made in their home. Pot Lucks are also great opportunities for neighbors and friends to meet, for colleagues and peers to share their stories in life and work, for people to make new friends, and for showing off specialties.

盛餐会的构想在于餐会在时间和金钱上的花费不必由某家庭或某机构一力承担,而每个人都能品尝到自家平时不做的菜肴。此外,邻居、好友、同辈人之间亦可趁此机会欢聚一堂,共享生活与工作中的趣事,还可以交到新朋友,卖弄下自己的特长。

Although the term “potluck” suggests a random assortment of dishes, it's likely to turn out better when the host does some kind organization by discussing with and assigning your guests a specific course or beverage to bring along. Otherwise you might risk the chance that all of your guests will bring only desserts.

尽管“ potluck”一词含有随意携带食物之意,倘若主人与客人商议并分配下各自应带食品或饮料,效果可能会好得多,不然就有可能出现客人都只带餐后甜点的情况。

The host needs to get ready some plates, cutlery , napkins and other utensils. The host must also be sure to have enough room in the refrigerator and a few coolers standing by to keep everything cold that needs chilling and for keeping ice for drinks, etc.

主人得准备些盘子、餐具、餐巾纸和其他器具,要保证冰箱有足够的空间,还得准备几台冷冻机来存放食品,当然还得放些饮料用的冰块等等。

There are different forms of potlucks. For a potluck between 10 and 30 people, a volunteer offers his or her home as hosting place. During my two-year stay in the U.S.A., I attended many of this kind of potlucks. One was the regular terminal get-together of the Modern Languages Department of University of Wisconsin-La Crosse outside the house of a professor by the Mississippi River. We shared various delicious food prepared by the professors and the facilitators from over ten nationalities including Mexican, Russian, Spanish, German, French, Indian, Moroccan, and of course Chinese.

盛餐会形式多样。出席人数在 10到30时,便在某个志愿者家里进行。我在美国呆了两年,多次参加过这种聚会。威斯康星·拉克罗丝大学现代语言系每学期末会在一名教授家外(在密西西比河旁)举行这种聚会。大家共享由教授们和来自十多个不同国家(包括墨西哥、俄罗斯、西班牙、德国、法国、印度、摩洛哥,当然还有中国)的师生们所准备的美味餐点。

Students at colleges and universities, especially international students, are fond of holding potlucks for their birthday, graduation, and other celebrations. Students usually arrange it in the evening and very often sing and dance crazily after the meal.

大学生,尤其是留学生,对以这种方式来庆祝生日、毕业、及其他庆典钟爱有加,通常会安排在晚上举行,饭毕便会载歌载舞。

If there are over 30 participants, usually people prefer to put it in a church which is more spacious and almost all the utensils are available. (Sometimes, for a larger party, each participant may be asked to contribute an additional $1 or $2 for purchasing plates, cutlery, napkin and beverages.) A Chinese student delegation was welcomed by the local community of La Crosse city in Wisconsin in the form of potluck at the basement of a Christian church. About sixty people including the city mayor and many members of the Sino-American Friendship Association came to the party with a large variety of food and beverages. The Chinese, though not used to American food, were satisfied for they could choose their favorite.

如果前来参加的客人超过 30名,那么便看中了更宽敞的教堂来举行,规模更为庞大,几乎所有的餐具都派上了用场。(有时候宴会规模再大点,每位客人可能得另付1或2美元来购买盘子、餐具、餐巾纸和饮料。)威斯康星州拉克罗丝城当地社团就曾举办这种宴会来为一个中国留学生代表团接风洗程,地点就设在一个基督教堂的地下室,包括市长和许多中美友谊协会的成员在内的六十多人出席,会上有各种各样的食物和饮料,即使是不大习惯美国菜的中国人也能找到称心如意的美食。

At the end of the potluck, participants are expected to help host with the cleanup. It could be fun too — some of the best conversations happen in the kitchen. Upon leaving, usually guests express their thanks to the host for his or her organization and hospitality.

吃完饭,大家一块儿帮主人收拾残局。这样也会妙趣横生,许多最让人受益的谈话就发生在厨房里。临走时,客人通常会对主人的热情好客和精心组织致谢。

The potluck is an opportunity for members to meet, visit, and orient. You share diversity of cultures on food and experiences and strengthen the understanding and relationship in an easier way for everyone. Whether you are talking about food or anything else, when individuals come together to give life to each other through community, you've got a potluck.

盛餐会给了大家一个碰面、拜访和适应新环境的机会,彼此既能领略到在食品和个人经验上体现出的文化多样性,又能以轻松的方式来加深相互理解和联系。无论你的话题是视频亦或其他,只要不同的人聚在一块谈天说地,那么盛餐会就应运而生了。 

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