Yep. That’s it. Goodbye 34 and under. Welcome to 35 and over. I have to be honest it makes me a tad nervous. But there isn’t much I can do about it so I will try not to think about too much. This was my first birthday overseas and the first birthday away from most family and friends. It definitely felt different not to have my usual birthday plans which consisted of multiple days of partying with close friends and then usually a dinner with my brother, dad, and stepmom. I did miss that a lot. But how many people can say they had “happy birthday” sung to them in another language in a foreign land? My husband´s family went out of their way to make my first birthday here comfortable, fun, and full of love. And to that, I am very thankful. I feel lucky that I know so many wonderful people on both continents. OK enough mush, let´s get down to it! I guess you could say the birthday started a week ago when I got a special delivery from my mom. Since I got here she has been sending me these “goody” bags and I received one early. It was filled with all sorts of things I needed and I was super excited. I decided to save two items for yesterday so I would have something to open on the big day not anticipating anything. So Wednesday things kicked off a bit early as my nieces made me a nice vegetarian lunch. I had been telling my sister in law how I wasn’t used to eating so much meat and fish and that sometimes just eating pasta or beans or salad was good enough. So the girls made me tomatoes and mozzarella wrapped in pastry dough and baked in the oven. YUMMY! Then for dinner I got pasta which is never a problem for this girl. Then came the big day and as I was getting dressed I was pondering which jewelry I would wear for the day when I decided to open up those other two presents from my mom. In one box was a matching necklace and earring set. PERFECT! I got all ready and then went out to the kitchen and there was this HUGE box on the table for me.
I was sooooo excited because I knew what it was. That was the box of hot sauces I was craving sent by my aunt. Word. Things were already looking up. I saw my sister n law there and started to tell her about it and noticed she was doing something and trying to hide it from me so I said “Dulce, should I leave?” and I got a big fat “YES!” so I took my box and ran to my room to check out what was inside. I am so freakin excited to start cooking with these sauces. I don’t even know what to make first. They ended up being a bit hit at dinner as after I have had a few drinks I like to pull everything I own out of a room and show it to people. Those of you who have seen me do this are laughing to yourselves right about now. I passed them around and explained what they were. Everyone was laughing and I told them they had to come to my HOT SAUCE DINNER NIGHT. hahahahahha The family must have heard me cooing over this gift because I looked up and there stood my in-laws and nieces at the door wondering what the hell I was doing. I invited them in and my mother in law handed me a rose and gave me two kisses and said “Parabéms, muitos anos” which is Congrats, many more years”.
I got that ALL day long. And from my father in law I got the same with an adage of “bébe” anytime he saw me. In Portugal they say on your birthday you are the baby and everyone can tell you what to do. Rather cute, no? So I showed everyone all my gifts and then we went and had some grilled fish for lunch. After lunch I was stuffed and lethargic so I sat in front of my laptop and then relaxed a bit. John came home early and we hung out a bit and had around 7pm my sister in law called for me in a panic. She needed HELP with dinner! Hey, no problem. I shredded the bacalhau, set up the table, and then set the table. People started arriving here and there and more “muito anos” and kisses came my way. OK so I need to take a step back for a second. Even though my in laws wanted to surprise me with dinner I already knew what was coming. Why you ask? Because I heard it Wednesday morning. That loud squeal of the chicken cannot be missed. I awoke to it and thought, yep, they´re killing a chicken right now. And in fact, it was my mother in law that did the deed. So there you have it, Happy Birthday we killed a chicken for you! And they even killed the one I wanted. Who could ask for more, right? I have had my eye on that big fat black chicken for months now. And I finally got it! And you know what? It was fantastic. Baked in the oven with rice and chouriço.
We also had bacalhau com natas which is a fantastic but very rich dish. Basically you cook the fish, then shred it (my job), add the fish to a clay pot filled with sautéed onions, then add cubed cut french fries, natas (or cooking cream), and fine bread crumbs and cook in the oven. You have to be a fan of cream or you will hate it. I love it. I can only eat it a handful of times a year but man oh man is it good. Then we had the usual bread, salad, and JARS of wine! There was lots of talking and talking shit, not much is different here that way. One of the things I love about this family is the passionate conversation about other kinds of food while we are eating our food. It always makes me laugh. Well after dinner it was time for dessert. Three came to the table. We had molotof which is a traditional dessert made of whipped egg whites and caramel. YUM! Then we had a chocolate torte, YUM! And then my niece made me her signature cookies and cream!
This picture shows me holding a copy of a note my mom sent me that I wrote as a litte girl. It was the first of many notes to my parents. Back in the day mom had a bit of mommy dearest in her as I wasnt allowed to leave the table until I was finished with my food. In this note I explain to my mom that I was sorry I didnt finish my pork and beans and that I “guess I will have to finish them tomorrow….” Yeah, it started early with me and it´s only gotten worse… :)
After dessert we had café and aguardente which I drank way too much of last night. I am definitely a lightweight now. I cannot drink like I used to. Welcome to the 35 box I guess….oh well, not bad thing I guess. :) I also got to open up some nice gifts. During this time there was a lot of crazy conversation one of which consisted of John and I talking about a documentary called Food, Inc. that we just watched. I just want to say as a side note here that if you are reading this and you haven’t seen this film, I am REQUIRING that you do. As an American you must see this film and become educated about where your food is coming from and how potentially dangerous it is. Especially if any of you have kids. One fact noted that 1 in 3 children born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes. This is some scary shit so get out there and see this movie. Here, I will even provide the website so you can check it out: http://www.foodincmovie.com/
OK enough of that…. But as we talked about this film a conversation started and then all of a sudden my laptop was out in the garage and we were all sitting around watching this documentary.
But of course we took a short break for my cake to be brought out and have HAPPY BIRTHDAY sung to me in both Portuguese, then English. How great is that? We then proceeded to eat cake, drink more; watch the film, talk, and talk, and talk. Until it was about 12.30 and people had to start going home!