Yesterday you celebrated Independence Day, right? I've celebrated it every July 4th of my life in much the same way: parades, cookouts, baseball games, fireworks, the usual. And it's good that way, it really is. Except last year my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and I watched the hot dog eating contest on ESPN, and not only will that put you off hot dogs, it could pretty much put you off food for the rest of your life. Really, it's pretty much everything that is wrong with America, encapsulated right there.
Yesterday though, we did something different--we celebrated American-Filipino Friendship Day, which is also July 4th, didja know that?
We went to Chuck and Rome's. She told me, "You don't need to bring anything," so I didn't. Also, she produces this show, so really, what could I bring except something made with Cool Whip and bring total dishonor to my family's name? Someone tells me "don't bring anything," and I believe her.
Except she also told her many aunts not to bring anything, and they all brought at least three main dishes. Also, I'm all about helping the hosts in the kitchen, but I just beat it out of there because it was clear the experts had arrived. Everyone was chattering around in Tagalog, and it was a great kick-off to 4th of July.
Lucy whispered to me, "Mama, us and Tio and Packa--we're the only white people here!"
I repeated this to Rome, who burst out laughing and said our friend Bob was coming so there would be one more white person. Her family is the nicest big group of people ever, and they'll switch over to English for you too, so it didn't matter anyway.
Lucy and Elaine quickly found other kids to play with, and the girls busied themselves chasing the lone boy round and round the house and yard, trying to get his baseball cap off his head and smear him with glitter makeup.
Then it was time to eat, but first Rome's dad (who, along with her mom, are visiting from the Philippines this summer) read some verses for us and said his prayers had been answered because he was getting to spend his birthday--also July 4--with his daughter and with Chuck and, as he gestured to my dad, "his compadre," which made me tear up a bit and laugh too because my dad needs a compadre right now and also he's about twice the height of Rome's dad.
Then he prayed for the food, and we started to eat.
I can't begin to tell you everything that was on offer for this unique 4th of July/Friendship Day, but here is a sampling (heh, most of which made its way to my plate): orzo with shrimp and dill, mahi mahi, steak/pepper/pineapple kabobs, fruit salad, something that I think is called "pased" (pronounced with two syllables)--it's noodles with shrimp and chicken and vegetables. I absolutely love it, but Chuck rolls his eyes at it. He said, "Yeah, I liked it too the first twenty times I had it at potlucks. It's everywhere, all the time. It's like how someone always brings lasagna to American potlucks so you just don't take it anymore." Well, I still like it. There was also shrimp curry and grilled tuna (Darren's favorite), oh, and a traditional lamb dish w/ rice that was fantastic, and like I said, I can't remember everything else. Oh, and fried chicken.
After we ate all that, it was, of course, time for dessert, which included something that looked like egg rolls but they're sweet and filled with banana, chocolate bundt cake, some other sort of double chocolate cake, caramel rice pudding, leche flan (Lucy's favorite), a Ghiradelli cheesecake, and the traditional American cake with white frosting decorated like the flag with strawberries and blueberries.
By the way, I know I'm probably missing at least 8-10 other things there. So we sat on the deck on a hot, muggy July day and celebrated birthdays, and family, and friendship between nations, and um, food.
People kept coming and going throughout the day, and finally as we were getting ready to leave (which involves working the entire crowd, shaking hands with all the men and cheek-kissing all the women), another family with little boys arrived. The lone boy with the baseball cap now firmly in place took them aside and told them, "The girls here are CRAZY. You have to watch out for them."
We finally went home in the dark, watching all the various town fireworks go off around us, while the girls fell asleep in the backseat with sweaty hair and their eyes smeared with hot pink glitter eyeshadow. We got home around 10 and carried them up to their beds, still asleep.
It was a great day.