A couple weeks ago Anna, my teammate Marco's girlfriend, asked us if we wanted to come to Marco's surprise 25th birthday party. Marco is a great teammate and an even better person so of course we wanted to go. The party was set for a Saturday afternoon at 1 o'clock. We didn't know how Italians celebrate birthdays so we didn't know what to expect. What were we supposed to wear? How big of a deal is it? Do we bring something? We even wondered if there was going to be food.
As usual we were one of the first people to arrive but that was ok because it is better to be early than late to a surprise party. It was also good because it gave us time to meet some of Marco's family and friends. We made sure we parked far enough away from the house because our cars have a big SAM Basket Massagno logo and our names on the side. We waited for about 30 minutes as more people and more food arrived. When the time came we hid in a smaller room to surprise him. We didn't know proper Italian surprise etiquette so we just screamed really loud when he opened the door.
Marco really appreciated all of the family and friends that came and was genuinely surprised. It was really cool. It was also time to eat and drink once the guest of honor had arrived. Marco is from Reggio, Italy and his family brought typical food from that region. I really enjoyed the parmesan cheese and a special spinach and cheese appetizer. They also brought salted and pressed pork fat that I am not a big fan of.
The beverages had a personal flair to them as well. One of Marco's family members owns a vineyard and makes wine so there was a lot of this wine. The wine was extremely good. I liked the sparkling white dessert wine the best. Marco said he began drinking it when he was 12 years old because it was so sweet. Unfortunately we had a game the next day so I could not drink a lot but I did have a little. All of the food that was laid out was delicious and I was completely satisfied.
There was a lot of food laid out for appetizers and I was shocked when they said that lunch was going to be served. When we had our food everybody told us bon apetito probably 15 times. Then they asked how to say it in english. So, we had to explain that we don't say anything when we serve our meals. I felt kind of bad about it. Marco told us to always keep food in front of you or someone might think that something was wrong. I kept going up and getting more. It was so good. I literally could not get enough.
The party started at 1 and just kept going. They kept bringing out more and more wine. One of Marco's friends even brought his own jug of wine that he had made. I stayed with my sparkling water while everyone else stayed with their wine. Someone broke out the Italian birthday song. Not to be outdone, Kam suggested that we sing our birthday song. We sang it and everyone joined in. This happened about 6 times during the afternoon. We just sat around eating, drinking and singing. It was really nice to talk to Marco's family and find out a little more about him too.
The appetizers and lunch were great but dessert had to be my favorite. Italian birthday cakes are not like American cakes but they are just as good. Marco's cake was huge and had various kinds of fruit on top. We sang the Italian and American birthday songs again except this time we sang the French and German versions as well. I guess this is what happens when Italians consume a lot of wine on a Saturday afternoon. They even brought out a little espresso machine. I love coffee and I had some but they were trying to get me to put some Italian liquor into it. I wasn't falling for that trick. When I went back to the dessert table, the grandmother bamboozled me into a huge bowl of pudding and some more cake. Marco was right when he said they would be concerned if you didn't have food in front of you.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon came when an hour after dessert, Marco said that they were going to serve dinner soon. We just ate all afternoon and they were going to eat again. This was definitely the best food I have ever had at a birthday party but we had made other plans for dinner. We had no idea that the party would last that long. I was sad that we had to leave early.
All in all it was an awesome experience. This summer I got to experience an Italian wedding and now I experience an Italian birthday. The Italians definitely know how to throw a party.