Mary's Dinner Club Stories - Tunisian Night
by Mary Anglberger - I am Austrian - got here last August (on my own, am not married, have no children) to change professionally after almost 20 years of travelling the globe, teaching English. I have since left my first job here in Limassol (marketing) and now teach English again - which I do love after all. I teach mostly evening classes and am off in the daytime..... the idea of a dinner club had been on my mind for several years.
And then in February I met up with a visiting British acquaintance (half Cypriot actually) who does wine tours in France and who was just in the proceess of starting them back home - he convinced me to 'go for it' too.
I have always loved food and cooking. I am actually self-taught (my mother is a great cook though, even if very traditional) and have always enjoyed having people over for meals. During my travels I usually check out the food stores before even checking out the sights. My 'hero' by the way is Anthony Bourdain - I loooove his travel food-shows.
I usually get my inspiration from the internet and from my fond memories of the tasty food I've had in the numerous countries I've lived/travelled in (the US, Burkina Faso/West Africa, Egypt, Costa Rica, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Latvia) - I hardly ever use the actual recipes though - I always end up changing things...
I am also very sociable and love meeting new people. I have always been big on networking, connecting people, and have been a member of uncountabel women's groups, associations, charities.... all over the world.
Somehow I found it quite difficult to find 'my spot' here in Cyprus with most people being here with their husbands, families. By now I have found that there's quite a few people like myself out there (mid-forties, single, mostly foreigners) who would love to just meet up casually with a group of new people. And I do have this lovely flat with a huge balcony - ideal!
Those Dinner Clubs have really become the highlight of my week - I love planning/shopping/trying things out during the week and I always look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Usually we go out dancing after dinner which is also more fun in a group.
Some facts: there have been 15 dinner clubs so far, welcoming a total of 121 guests with 14 different nationalities and about 25% have attended more than once (some have become true regulars :).
So, last Saturday's Dinner Club was dinner #16 at Mary's with a Tunisian theme
After the usual maybe yes, maybe no, maybe alone, maybe with a friend... the final number of participants was 8. I can seat a maximum of 11 but really find 8 a very comfortable number where I get lots of time to sit down with my guests.
As always, we started at 8:00 with welcome drinks on the balcony - already quite 'animated' with guests of 6 nationalities (German, Austrian, British, Latvian, Irish-Cypriot, Cypriot) getting to know each other. Three of them had actually met at previous dinners , 2 were acquaintances, 2 were a couple... a perfect mix for chats on the most varied topics. After a short intro by each guest and a bit of info on the food (I had to admit that I had actually never been to Tunisia) we moved inside.
The menu featured:
Red lentil spread with homemade pita chips
‘Brik’ pastries with meat, tuna-potato or cheese stuffing and a pumpkin-chard side dish
Harissa – traditional Tunisian dessert with cinnamon-lemon syrup
After the first 'draw' - seats are numbered and guests draw a number indicating where they will sit - starters were enjoyed. I had already served those homemade pita chips at one dinner before and just like that time they caused great laughter because people 'just can't stop'. No matter how hard I tried to lure people back out onto the balcony so I could clear the tables, they kept going for 'just one more'.
So after the break on the balcony, new numbers were drawn, new groups formed, new conversations started, more good food was enjoyed. I had made the pastries for the main course in different shapes to help people distinguish between the fillings and there was quite a bit of discussing favorites - they were all tasty if I may say so.
By the third course everyone usually feels very comfortable in the group and the last drawing of the numbers always turns out to be lots of fun with people knowing where the seats are, numbers being drawn for a second time..... but the seating by then is 'less strict' anyway and often the two tables are moved together.
This time the mood was so good, that after coffee, we switched back to a last glass of wine while lounging on my balcony couches... Yet another great eve with lots of good fun and new friendships. Some of us went dancing and all of us will meet again - some already at the upcoming dinner club, some at a later one without doubt.
For more information contact Mary on 96589022 or firstname.lastname@example.org