I just got back from my husband's company picnic and it was so much fun. His company always puts on an annual get-together so families can meet one another and employees can socialize in a more relaxed environment. This year's theme was Around-the-World. It was held on a Saturday afternoon in the park and was one of the best we've been to.
Lucky for us, the picnic was held at a park not far from our house so we decided to ride our bikes. It was a beautiful sunny day and we couldn't believe our eyes when we got to the party site. It looked like a carnival with extra large booths set up in the grass area. We parked our bikes and hurried over to check things out.
Upon closer examination, we discovered each booth represented a different country. The booth's were decorated with that country's flag, colors, costumes, and unique items. There were also travel brochures available. But best of all, food was included from the country. All in all, it was a great way to expose our children to unfamiliar cultures and we adults really enjoyed the food and workmanship put into each set up.
First we visited Italy. A large Italian flag hung in the backdrop. Green, white, and red linens adorned the tables. There were books on Rome, Venice, Milan, and Naples. There were posters of paintings, museums, and the Italian Riviera. The focal point of the food table was a large basket tied with green and white ribbons and full of large breadsticks. The rest was a pasta feast that included fettuccine, spaghetti, ravioli, linguine, and stuffed manicotti. Plain tomato and Alfredo sauces were available for topping, and more elaborate sauces like garlic and herb, hearty meat, sausage, and vegetable primavera were offered. You could also enjoy antipasto salad and garlic bread.
Ireland was next. This was our kids' favorite. Right in the middle of the booth was a huge rock, practically a boulder, labeled “Blarney Stone.” Guests were encouraged to kiss it for good luck. Shamrocks, leprechauns and rubber snakes decorated the enclosure. A huge pot of gold was created by painting a Halloween cauldron gold and filling it with foil-wrapped bubble gum coins. Small Irish flags, books on the Emerald Isle, (as Ireland is known) and postcards of Dublin littered the tables. And kids could watch a leprechaun trap in action. The food was delicious. One of Ireland's most famous dishes, Irish stew, was the main offering. There was also corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. And my husband really enjoyed the Irish whiskey. I was partial to the Irish coffee I came back for later in the day.
Our next encounter was with Mexico. Strings of colored lights surrounded the booth and hung on the edge of the tables. Large, colorful paper flowers were arranged in bouquets. Sombreros and piñatas hung from the top. Red, white, and green balloons were tied to chairs and crepe-paper streamers hung from post to post. It was the most colorful of the countries. An older Latin woman sat in a chair and gave quick Spanish lessons, teaching the kids important words, like “Where is the bathroom?” The traditional food was authentic. Tortillas, plain or part of tacos, enchiladas, and tostadas were in abundance. Beans, cheese, lettuce and onions were offered. Tamales and rice could also be eaten. And my favorite, chips, salsa, and guacamole were served in porcelain sombreros.
The visit to China was quite colorful too. Chinese paper lanterns, fans, and kites hung from the top of the booth. Dragon masks stood in the corners. China travel posters were hung and showed Peking and Shanghai. The Chinese flag stood on a small flag pole and on the tables were chopsticks, bamboo, kimonos and beautiful Oriental tea sets. We learned that China has the world's oldest living civilization. There was, of course, a huge red bowl full of white rice for eating. Fried rice was also available. Chinese cabbage, Chinese chicken salad, and chow mein rounded out the food choices. Fortune cookies were for dessert.
The last stop on our Around-the-World tour was Israel. Blue and white balloons stood in an arch in the booth. Travel books and brochures on Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem were on the tables. We were informed on the country's deserts, highlands, and coastal plains. And there were beautiful pictures of the Mediterranean Sea. A huge glass vase filled with oranges (Israel's major crop) was the centerpiece of its buffet table. Matzo ball soup, potato pancakes, fish, and vegetables, were tasty. Baklava was served for a sweet treat.
Tables and chairs were available throughout the grass area for sitting and many people brought their food to the general seating area to eat and talk, then go back for more. There was also hired talent walking around in the traditional dress from the countries I've mentioned. And there was music. Music from all of the countries played over speakers. Kids, and even some adults, could be found dancing at any given moment.
The afternoon was so much fun that we hated to leave. Unfortunately the sun was setting and we had to ride our bikes back home. The company picnic was a big hit, and we had a wonderful “trip.”