Embassies from around the world dot the landscape in Washington, D.C. and the streets are filled with reckless foreign diplomats. You can spot their special license plates, which allow them to drive like maniacs since they’re granted immunity. D.C. was a true mixing bowl, where the Italians weren’t the Jersey Shore type, but the type who spoke Italian and made their own limoncello.
My childhood in the Washington suburbs was multi-cultural, but not in that forced, PC way that makes everyone nervous. My school featured students from France to India, Vietnam to Ireland. To celebrate this mash-up, Beech Tree Elementary hosted International Dinners, where families cooked food from their native country to share. Stations would be set up with homemade flags, dollops of food were shared and adventurous eaters would mill about.
The event brought families together in an organic way. It inspired me to host an International Dinner Party of my own!
How to do it:
1) The hardest part? Cooking food from around the world. The most fun part? Cooking food from around the world!
2) Make signs for all the foods – it will encourage guests to try somehing unfamiliar. A charming accent? Label everything on airmail envelopes!
3) Feature beer and wine from around the world!
4) Ask guests to arrive dressed in native garb – clothing from their country. Many of my friends didn’t have such clothes, but they improvised. My friend Tess wore a custom dress she had made in Vietnam. A man of French descent wore a fake moustache and an English friend wore tartan and wellies! But hands down, the best costume went to Kim Burke-Connors, who celebrated her Russian roots with a babushka scarf, a basket of potatoes, a bottle of vodka and austerity!
5) Buy a basket and fill it with international foods such as Italian pasta, German mustard and soy sauce. One guest will get to go home with this prize. How do you determine the winner? World trivia, based on geograhy, customs and food! At our party, competition was tight, with a lot of tension between the last two finalists.
6) Give guests a small parting gift, such as Swiss chocolate or a small bottle of Irish whiskey. Guests will love being treated to a night around the world without leaving town. Enjoy!