It is the day after the celebration of the year. I am basking in the warm glow of a very successful day.
I'm really proud of what I pulled off. Everyone had a good time, we ate like Kings of several different countries who got together to have a banquet, we danced, we played games. And we really did share cultures.
People began arriving around 4.15, of course I was still cooking from 9am that morning and hadn't had time to shower so answered the door half-dressed with a towel on my head. But that's ok, I have brilliant friends who arrive and immediately ask what they can do, and it is a testament to how much I trust them that I feel comfortable relinquishing a little control for just long enough to finish dressing and do hair and makeup. Like, truly. This whole thing has been my baby, it's hard to delegate.
Except for of course the food aspect, where the whole idea was that everybody bring dishes. And bring them they did - wow oh wow. The term 'tables groaning with food' applied to every available surface of the apartment. And what food. I wrote a menu that people added to as they arrived.
Argentina - empanadas with ham and cheese/beef, chocotorta (an amazing cake with dulce de leche and chocolate biscuits), Frenet which is a mint liquer.
Mexico - chilaquiles (corn chips layered and baked with salsa and cheese) guacamole
Spain - tortilla de patata
Luxembourg - potato salad, dumplings (amazing and veeery fattening - doughballs baked in a huge dish of cheese and bacon)
The Netherlands - Indonesian peanut sauce, chicken
Hong Kong - rice balls in broth
Czech Republic - Christmas bread and Christmas cookies
USA - mashed potatoes
UK - Cottage pie, roasted veggies, apple crumble, Eton mess (light - made with low-fat yogurt instead of cream), and when Sam and Hayley showed up late they brought tea and biscuits - Jaffa Cakes, Hob Nobs and to my and Lauren's intense joy, Minstrels!
PLUS because it was Thanksgiving somewhere in the country - turkey hors d'ouevres: roasted shredded turkey, toast squares, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy.
And pumpkin caramel sauce with ice cream. And pumpkin cookies coated in spiced dark chocolate ganache. If I say so myself, I am good.
And so we ate, we ate ate ate until we were all full and complaining that we were too full but we just had to keep eating. It was really fun trying all the new things - for example I have never eaten anything from Luxembourg, nor tried the traditional Czech Christmas bread or Charles' rice balls. And I received lovely compliments on my own dishes which I'm really happy about cos I've never made cottage pie before and while it is a simple concept, I spent a lot of time and effort on mine cos I wanted the flavours to be awesome. I still have leftover empanadas (they were piled high, it was pretty spectacular), Spanish tortilla, dumplings and chilaquiles...uh oh.
We ate (and drank, natch) and then we played naming States - I printed out blank US maps and everyone had a go at labelling them all. Errr...yeah we don't know where any States are. Except Texas and Florida, and those are the easy ones. Jacob as the lone US citizen was in charge of grading our attempts but he said because we were working at a beginner level he wouldn't give real grades just comments and smiley faces. Fair enough. Charles made all of his States into funny faces and then made a really aerodynamic paper plane out of the map. Nati coloured her entire map in green with a different pattern for each State. Carmen cheated and looked it up on her phone.
We also went around the room and said what we were thankful for, which was very heartwarming and appropriate, and then for some reason we all sang our national anthems - all of them at the same time. It was a cacaphony of national pride and Maite has to just sing lalalas because the Spanish one has no lyrics. And the Dutch one pays tribute to the Spanish King, confusingly. But then we also sang them individually which was a nice learning experience. I learnt that the Argentinian one is pretty much a symphony, it's very long and has a lot of changes, I will learn one day what it means, it seems like a saga. The Mexican one is fun and brassy, the Czech and Lux ones are very pretty and like folk songs, the Hong Kong one is awesome I think it's my favourite.
Further entertainment included the traditional 2C game of charades - any time we've ever had a party, we've played. It's always hilarious. Mostly because every time Lauren got up someone shouted 'Braveheart!' before she'd even begun, which is very funny in anyone's book. Actually she did one turn where she had got as far as establishing that it was a movie, and I shouted 'Trainspotting!' half-joking - and her jaw dropped and she sat back down saying 'how'd you get that???' pahahaha.
Oh and then Lauren organised an impromptu Ceili and we Gay Gordoned around our living room which seems huge when we are all just sitting and eating but becomes a lot smaller when we are trying to gallop in pairs in circles around it. Inspired idea though and a lot of fun.
Of course I had to maintain a cleaning circuit the whole time so I didn't have a huge pile of dishes this morning. But again, helpful willing volunteer guests are easy to come by. Sam and Hayley were the latecomers and made tea for everyone while we were playing charades, and then we pretty much went into nostalgia land with a lot of 90s music and sing alongs...and attempted dance routines...oh dear. Our guests were gone by 2 and I fell asleep in a chair around 3, having done as much clean up as I could. I transferred to my bed at 8 where I slept upside down still in my Rolling Stones tshirt.
And since then I have made myself a (thoroughly vegan) brunch, drank a huge mug of Earl Grey and contemplated getting dressed. I will do something fun later - what's the point of a 4 day weekend if you don't do something fun with it???
And Monday I begin panto rehearsals, which I can't quite believe! Marvellous!
More tea I thinkxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx