Monday, September 10, 2012

Not Your American BBQ

Last Friday, Giovanna, the kiddos, and I met Benito at work (NATO Defense College) for lunch.  Feeling rather defeated after a shameful attempt at "properly" slicing my apple (with only butter knives available), I was thankful when lunch was finally over. We rounded the corner of the cafeteria and  mere feet from our table happened on a bar, where Benito bought us a round of hot espresso. After a month in Italy, I really shouldn't have been surprised; of course there's a bar in the office building. Wine and beer are also readily available at all times. Welcome to the Italian work day.

In the short period we spent in his office that afternoon, co-workers continuously filed in to discuss all matters with Officer Vitolo, business and otherwise. Remembering how I felt during spontaneous visits in my planning period last year, my heart raced just witnessing the endless interactions. I don't think I'd work well in this environment. God bless AMURica.

Front lawn of the NATO Defense College

Saturday evening was the big BBQ at the Commandant's house for the entire College staff and their families. Having been officially adopted as big sister Vitolo, Benito pulled some strings and insisted that I join them at the party. For the record, I was invited to a BBQ. Naturally, I'm thinking a jorts and beer kind of scene. I was sorely mistaken (see photo below). Think celebrity wedding and that's about accurate. 

Everyone met at the college and loaded into three charter buses to make the twenty minute trip to the party site. We were dropped off at a large iron gate, where we scaled a long private drive to an elegant residence at the top. There, an impressive line of guests were being individually welcomed by the Commandant and his wife. Italian greetings are much like the Spanish; they take forever. Two kisses and small talk for each person, times 150 guests.  

While the kiddos went to town on the oversized trampoline, I was busy oo-ing and awe-ing at the slew of butlers, cooks, wait staff, outdoor pool and bar, and overall posh setting. There must have been hundreds of candles and fruit bouquets lining the grounds. I would later discover that all fruit was 100% real (I checked one in the bathroom--had to). Maybe it was just because I was enjoying aperitivi by the pool, but I couldn't help temporarily forgetting my identity as "nameless nanny" and feeling very important. Throughout the evening, I met so many amiable and interesting people from all over the world, including an Italian girl my age who had just returned from an Au-pair experience in San Fran.

Finally, dinner was served by the most famous catering company in Rome. I piled my plate high with eggplant pasta, sauteed vegetables, and an assortment of meats and cheeses. Soon after, Benito was beckoning me back for the second course. Truthfully, this was the only "BBQ" component of the entire event. Yes, grilled sausage, pancetta, and kabobs happened to be a part of the menu. What a joke. Thankful for having settled on a buttonless dress that evening, we made a final roll over to the buffet for merengue cookies dipped in the chocolate fountain, coffee, cake, and of course, more wine. It was nanny's night off after all! 

Excuse the blur. Love my little Italian leech :)

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