A jar of sun dried tomatoes, some fuzzy mustaches courtesy of a very fun package from my sister, and of course a love for ethnic foods... these things served as an inspiration for a evening of friends, fun, and food. For my birthday, Becky (1) and I decided to treat some of our station friends to dinner at Stefano's Italian Ristorante.
Our dining area was trimmed with white cafe lights, Italian flags, and Renaissance Italian art such as the Last Supper and Mona Lisa. The table was garnished with jars of pasta, herbs, and olive oil. Music that played softly in the background included both classical and loosely Italian music, everything from Figaro and Pavarotti to That's Amore and Mambo Italiano.
Becky 2 arrived a bit early to help with last minute preparations. The electricity was off for about an hour and threatened to make things a bit more interesting, but luckily it came back on about 5:45 PM. The other guests began to arrive about 6:30 PM: Erin, Alan (one of our volunteers), Jeff and Susan, and Andy and Judy who took the place of the Myers' kids. Everyone was provided with a birthday hat and/or fuzzy Italian mustache. Even Mona Lisa grew a mustache for the occasion!
The nine of us gathered around the table and Jeff gave the blessing. First course consisted of bruschetta appetizer; cabbage salad topped with Italian dressing, cherry tomatoes, olives; and the Myers contributed fresh baked loaves of Italian bread. Main courses were lasagna and pasta with chicken, sun dried tomato pesto, and feta cheese.
For dessert, Becky 1 made a beautiful red velvet cake (red food coloring had just arrived in a birthday package from my cousins Naseem and Jami). The cake was topped with creamy vanilla gelato. And all of this was served up with lots of laughs! Wow, what a meal.
Following coffee and tea, we all rolled into the living area for a game of Italian trivia. Two teams competed by answering various questions (Did you know that Venetian gondolas only come in one color... black?) and molding Italian items out of play dough (Leaning Tower of Pisa and olive). Susan had such a talent for rolling the extra point, we are considering sending her to Las Vegas with all of our deputation money! Just kidding, Louie.
So I am declaring the Italian dinner party a success. It was an incredibly fun evening and probably one of the best birthdays imaginable (despite being so far from family and friends back home). I am so blessed by my Kudjip friends, no... Kudjip FAMILY for making my day so special. Thank you for loving me!