If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

02 June 2005

Cena Americana!

So, a few neighbors came over last night for an american style meal. I would hope they actually like me, too, but I'm sure curiosity got the best of 'em, too.
Here's the menu rundown:

Appetizers on the terrace:
Prosecco (of course!) with finger PB&J sandwiches and 'Ants on a Log' (raisins, peanut butter and celery). We did have 2 young kids in attendance, I was trying to be user friendly. Plus, peanut butter doesn't really exist here, so people were fascinated.

'Wedge' salad with gorgonzola and toasted walnuts
Beef brisket with homemade bbq sauce and 'texas toast' - garlic bread
homemade potato salad
fried green tomatoes

Icecream with 'jimmies' sprinkles and watermelon for dessert.

The bbq sauce got rave reviews (and many extra helpings) from the Doctor, which was a relief (I was afraid it was too 'tangy'.) The meat was waaaaaaay too much work with constant basting for 7 hours, because it wasn't the same kind of meat I would have used in the states. It came out more like 'roast beef' (very dense, though thankfully not overcooked. Actually still a little pink inside, whew!). Really, I need to just buy a grill and just do hamburgers next time! Cooking in the house is too hot in the summer anyway. The surprise favorite of everyone was the fried green tomatoes, which I am tickled with! I couldn't find cornmeal, so I battered them in a mix of flour, salt & pepper, and ground up saltine-like crackers. Delicious!

You wouldn't recognize me, and Martha would have been proud -- I clipped a series of bright pink rose blossoms from one of my shrub roses and made a makeshift candle with floating roses centerpiece (in a giant mason jar since I couldn't find a hurricane), plus everyone had an individual rose in a short little glass vase at their place. To keep the 'americana' theme, I did have Garth Brooks on the stereo!

Of course, while we had been battling the heat all week, last night a front came through and it got really chilly - too much so to sit outside, so we had to move into the slightly-snug kitchen. But other than that, it all went according to plan and a good time was had by all! Once I got dinner on the table and relaxed a little, I actually was able to ask an intelligent question about politics (*what did they think of the French & Dutch rejection of the EU constitution), and understood MOST of the answer. Progress!

Living in my 650sq foot apartment in DC, I didn't do any 'full-meal' entertaining, and had TOTALLY forgotten how much work it is! I have renewed abject worship at how much of this The Mom did when I was growing up, she was always throwing THE party-to-be-at in our neighborhood. I hope I did her proud. Top the general work of a normal party with the fact that I'm trying to be the 'charming and witty ex-pat' in a language I'm barely transactional in while I put the finishing touches on a slightly too ambitious meal cooked on a foreign(CELSIUS!) stove in a tiny kitchen. Whew! I need a week to recover! Of course, I was up waaaaaaay too late unwinding (and finishing the champagne...) This morning, I took two of my 'advil ration' (did I mention Advil doesn't exist here, and even The Diplomat & RA have asked me to import for them?!?!), and deemed it a successful soiree.


Blogger green gazelle said...

Wow....less than a week on terra firma italia & you're throwing a dinner party? Quelle brave & bold! Had to giggle a bit over the 'ants on parade' PB/raisin/celery sticks - does that ever bring back the memories.

Fried Green Tomatoes? I actually thought that was a made-up item for that movie with Katie Bates & Jessica Tandy...is that Southern American fare? Midwestern? Kindly enlighten us.

Ah yes, The Mom and her infamous abilities to entertain. From General Mills executives to the Dinner Group to Wedding or Anniversary events, that gal is a natural Hostess with the Mostest. If by relative association you've inherited a fraction of her finese & style, you're certain to become the Martha Stewart of Tuscany.


2:45 PM  
Blogger Viaggiatore said...

Hi, gg! First, I can't tell you how tickled I am that you're such a frequent reader and commenter - (and of course I knew YOU would get the Waltons/Spencer Mountain ref... you and The Mom, so far, are the only ones I think!) I think it's very cool how much more connected we are now that I live even FURTHER away from the family roots, eh? (tho I'm beginning to think you're an insomniac, too!)

But I digress - Fried Green Tomatoes. Yup, a real thing. Delicious, really - very deep south (Georgia, I would guess?) The greenness of the tomatoes makes them really tangy. Slice 'em in about 1/4" pieces (not too thin), dip em in egg yolk, coat them in a mix of flour, salt, pepper, and crushed saltines, fry in a pan (olive oil of course) for about 3 mins on each side. Serve plain. Yummy! The kids present actually loved them, which surprised me. I don't know if you can find 'green tomatoes' on your coast, but it's worth a try! xoxo, V.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Danza Sorellina said...

k- wow and I thought I was the only daughter that cooked- so impressed! And even with out the real ingrediants! When I started doing the full course meal thing not only did I appreciate what The Mom did ALL the time for us, I felt bad for ever saying I didn't like a meal- hey a lot of work goes into putting the entire thing together- and all at the same time and hot! Seems like your settleing in quite well- I am so happy for you-
I am finally checking in daily- having a bit of a hard time following all the "nick names" I am hoping that if I stay tuned- it will all make sense- can't wait to get over to The Mom's and actually talk to you- take care-

12:49 AM  
Blogger green gazelle said...

V: merci for the Fried Green Tomatoes recipe...and while I've not seen any of the green variety in our markets (that are so super), I'll be sure to ask some of my green gardener friends to pluck a few for my next dinner party.

And yes, I figured you'd id me sooner than later *much, much sooner, ya clever cleaver*...*grins*....was sorta enjoying being kinda anonymous, but hey, that's what these funky little blognames are for, right? (who knows, ya just MAY have chosen the wrong Walton/Spencers Mtn gal, huh?)

*sigh* yep, this one has been the Evening Wanderer for years.....


3:15 AM  
Blogger Viaggiatore said...

Hey, gg... yeah, it's a bit of a curse: the 'clever cleaver'ness: Probably too smart for my own darn good, as Papa would have said! While I must admit you DID have me going for a bit... tho you eventually gave yourself away! :D

Nice to know that even after a very long time, we can stay in touch so frequently as if no time had passed at all. *Really* glad you're here. In Italy, that might be considered an olive branch, no?!? Many smiles... xoxo, V.

8:22 PM  
Blogger green gazelle said...

...an olive branch, eh? How about a nice olive oil bread dip with a jug of wine and a nice long catch-up chatfest?


11:55 AM  

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