Sharing is caring, or at least that is how my family brought me up. Since a very early age, I learnt to give to my sister and my cousins, splitting everything among all of us so we all had a portion or a share of whatever I had – from sweets to pocket money or books most of the time.
I think that growing up in a big family, constantly surrounded by people of all ages, had a big influence in the type of adult that I have become: 100% extrovert and communicative person that seeks and enjoys philanthropic connections.
Making New Friends
A while ago two expats from Pune (in India) came to work in the same offices that I am currently based. Despite the fact we don’t really work together, I understood how weird it feels when you are new to an office (and even a country and a continent!) and you don’t know anyone.
I started to talk to them and pay special attention to their needs. If I saw them walking around and looking for something, I would ask how I could help them. If they were looking for a pen I would give them a tour of the stationary cupboard *best place ever, right?*. I would ask about their weekends or just give them a blink when our looks crossed in the middle of office chaos.
Unsurprisingly, we became friends really quickly, finding that we have some interests in common, such as our love for cooking or watching Game of Thrones. A month ago, they invited us to go to their home and have dinner with them, consisting in a several authentic and homemade Indian dishes that would have been impossible to buy in any restaurant or take away. My husband is a big fan of chai and during the evening they even took the time to show him what sort of tea is needed and how to prepare the authentic spiced tea at home. *spoiler alert, there are no sugary powders involved!*
Sharing is caring and the fact that they took the time to prepare some food for us, as well as having us at their home, was very touching. I wanted to return the gesture so I reciprocated and invited them to come to our home to enjoy some Argentinian and Spanish foods.
I decorated the table with flowers and laid out a beautiful tablecloth as well as some matching napkins. (Tip – I usually iron them when they are on the table, as it is quick, easy and they will be perfect for the guests!). Also, I prepared some little menus with the names of the dishes we would be serving, just in case they wanted to google the recipes later on.
As for my outfit, I decided to welcome them into my home dressed comfortably yet nice, so they could see I had made the extra effort, even though I was tired from all the cooking. A red lip is a massive help in such occasions, it makes me feel put together in ten seconds.
When I am the guest at someone else’s home I always struggle with the first few minutes upon arrival, as you greet the hosts but you are never too sure about where to put your stuff, whether you should remove your shoes, what to do with the little gift that you have bought for them…
Because I tend to feel some awkwardness, I try to minimise that feeling when others come to ours. For example, I will always ensure that both, me and my husband, open the door and meet and greet our guests, no matter how busy is in the kitchen. Then, I show them around, so they know where to put their coats and bags and they will familiarise themselves with basics such as where is the toilet. Finally, I always ask them to sit on the couch, where I would have prepared some little nibbles (or amuse bouche as I like to say) and allow them to relax and tune their energy levels in with us.
Guests have arrived!
After the house tour, we welcomed our Pune friends with some traditional Argentinian mates with the little and yummy chipá. Everyone is always surprised by the goodness of this little manioc bites.
Once we all were comfortable, we moved into the dining table. Decorations were removed, so we could have space and eat without worrying about knocking down the floral arrangement or burning yourself with the candles.
On the table we had a cheese board and some olives and grissini, as cold appetizers.
Then the first hot tapa came out of the kitchen: some Spanish croquetas which I had made from scratch using one of my good friends recipe *thanks C!*. After that one we had the native Argentinian humita, which is a sort of savoury quiche made with sweetcorn as the main ingredient.
Both humita and croquetas are very rich tapas so we followed with a gazpacho to freshen up our mouths and get a flavour boost from the sun ripened tomatoes and Spanish extra virgin olive oil.
The thing with tapas is that they come in small portions, so even if it doesn’t look like you have eaten a lot, you actually have! Luckily, we still had some room for dessert, and I had prepared my favourite cold lemon cake.
Wrap up consisted on some teas and coffees served together with some Argentinian alfajores that we had baked from scratch. Dulce de leche is always a winner when it comes to dinner parties and these little sweet bites are the perfect ending.
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