With hugs, Rhea loaded me into a wheelchair for delivery to my flight to Washington, DC on March 19th. Old friend, David F, from junior-year-abroad-in-Rome years, picked me and after lunch together with his wife, Liz, off we went on a rapid round of shopping for my family. Six weeks in the U.S. but shopping for family gifts had to wait til almost the last day: I’d have a two-baggage allowance for my international flight home……… …..finalmente! After the fastest shopping trip on record, David dropped me at the home of Mary and Charlie, hosts of the birthday cooking class that night in honor of Portugese Joao’s sixtieth birthday.
Joao welcomed his crowd with Mediterranean warmth and a wide smile as he passed out aprons – inscribed for the occasion – with menus and pens tucked into the pockets. In Charlie and Mary’s spacious kitchen, many guests sliced and diced, whipped and mixed as Joao’s birthday banquet came together. Other guests happily sampled the antipastos we prepared while sipping aperitifs. Joao added his own touch to our Italian antipastos: a tasty Portugese sausage.
We all gathered in the dining room, balloons festooning the tables, for our Umbrian banquet in Joao’s honor. As huge serving dishes laden with winter squash pasta then a flavorful meat course, then the side dishes circulated, guests launched toasts and speeches. After multiple courses, not just tiramisu closed this birthday feast but also a cake with Joao’s portrait on it! Has anyone ever been so fêted at age sixty!?
As this joyous evening drew to a close, Joanie, another “Rome-years” friend, and her husband George dropped by to pick me up – and joined in the gran finale as Joao generously made sure that they sampled a bit of each dish we had made that evening. The party was just beginning when the three of us toasted Joao and headed for home. Buon Compleanno, Joao and thanks for including me in your milestone feast!
Joao wrote me this note of thanks:
“Oh Anne, it was such a nice dinner event and birthday celebration and just what
I had envisioned it being. The mission was accomplished and with flare …
I am so glad you were part of my 60th birthday festa. You made it special and
unique adventure. Everyone is still talking about the fun they had.
Thank you so, so , so much!
It feels like I was in a dream. Was I?”