After finally feeling settled enough in my apartment, in my work, in everything, I decided it was high time to put a twist in our normal weekend plans and have a party at my new Spanish apartment! All of my friends hopped on board the idea immediately (“American party, American party!”), and the date was set for November 10.
Apparently, with the exception of my peña, house parties are not all that common. Qué raro (“How strange”) for a girl who comes from the city of basement shows and house hang-outs. Nonetheless, I set out to the local chino (the Walgreens/Target/Walmart ‘kind-of but not really’ of Spain) to buy hokey decorations with Carlos and Miri for my America-Spain party.
Even more crucial than décor, however, was what American dish I would cook for my friends to feast on. Typical Spanish parties include a potluck-style element, thus I wanted to make something that they had (probably) never had before. I racked my brain, tweeted about it, made a Facebook status about it, and, of course, called my mother. Ultimately, given what I could find in the grocery stories here, I decided on my family’s chili recipe. (While chili con carne is a dish most folks know around these parts, it’s not the good ol’ hearty, American chili we serve up at home.)
The beginnings of the chili in my kitchen.
The day finally was upon us, and I was running around to the rastro (a local outdoors market that happens every Saturday morning/early afternoon) and around Valverde with Miri and Dea. I spent the later part of the afternoon and early evening in the kitchen, alternating between cooking and texting my mother to make sure I was doing everything right. (I’m currently operating without measuring devices of any kind for cooking, and for those of you who know how I like to cook, you can imagine how freaked this makes me.)
Once compiled, I left the chili to simmer while I got ready and waited for Miri and a few other friends to come over and help me put up all the streamers and balloons - oh, and the signs warning people to not hit their heads on the weird overhang in the stairway to my apartment.
By 9:30 p.m. (early in Spanish terms), most everyone had showed up or was about to arrive, and we had quite the spread in front of us. That’s what I love about Spanish “parties”: Everyone brings a dish ‘to pass’ potluck-style, but instead of everyone grabbing a plastic plate and loading it up with a little bit of everything, everyone grabs a fork and digs in. Makes for little mess AND it’s environmentally friendly! (Not for the germ-o-phobes, obviously, but I love the sharing aspect of it all. My friends are the same way at home.) And best of all? Everyone loved my chili! I dished it up and showed them all how to dose out some sour cream and shredded cheese on top, and they devoured it, coming back for seconds and then some. Thank goodness I made a double batch!
When I finally lost the nerves that had built up from having so many people in my apartment and wanting everything to go perfectly, I ended up having an amazing time. (The wine and rum might’ve helped with that, too.) Everyone was chatting away, loudly and animatedly as Spaniards do, enjoying the music and each other’s company. And we ended up snapping a lot of photos, thankfully, so I have documentation of the night I hosted a successful party in mi piso!
Before we headed down to La Estación, all my Spanish friends added to what I call my “inspiration board” on my fridge (little notes some friends of mine gave me over the course of my last month in Milwaukee). Every day I look at my fridge and can’t help but smile. It’s so encouraging to have notes from friends near and far motivating me every day.
My inspiration board, complete with the new notes from my Spanish friends.
I’m so lucky to have such a great group of friends here. I feel like I gush about them frequently, but if you only knew them like I do, you would do the same. They’re so supportive, helping me with any and everything imaginable, while at the same time being a blast to hang out with. They’re funny when I need them to be, serious when I need them to be and all around awesome. I’ll never be able to stop saying how thankful I am for them.
Here’s to hoping the next America-Spain Party Part 2 comes sometime in the very near future!
Group shot featuring some of my incredible amigos, and me.
[Full Disclosure: This post accidentally got deleted (by me), so this is a rewrite. If you viewed the original before my clumsy fingers made it disappear and liked it better, let me know so I have time to put on “The Notebook” and pretend I’m crying at that.)