Bob's son in law, Jerry turned 50 on Feburary 22nd but the BIG party wasn't planned until Saturday the 23rd. However, they have some dear friends that don't live too far from them and we visited them, bringing birthday cake and balloons Friday evening. The lady has ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and was not going to be able to come to the official party. We had a lovely time visiting there, eating cake, taking pictures, etc. She was so thrilled we spent the evening with them.
Jerry is of Armenian descent, has been in this country since a teenager and of course is an American citizen. I have discovered over the years, he and his family and friends are a great bunch of people. They are friendly, gracious, outgoing and so fun to be around. During past visits (while I was here in Washington working), Bob has been to weddings (of course his own daughter Hope was married in an Armenian Christian Church in Glendale), birthday parties and graduation parties. But this was my first experience. So...I didn't know what to expect, however Bob had already told me that these wonderful people really love to have a good time.
The BIG party was held in a restaurant in Arcadia, CA (right next to Pasadena) called The Patio. It's owned and operated by a great guy from Lebanon. It features "home style Mediterranean cuisine." Hope & Jerry had reserved the entire main area of the restaurant for their expected 70 guests. I went there, determined to try everything except any dish that contained lamb. I've tried it many ways...I don' like it!
When we got there, the tables were already loaded with all sorts of cold appetizers. (I grabbed a menu and checked off some of the dishes, so I could remember them.) There was of course plates of their yummy flat bread (sort of like Pita bread), hummus~to put into the flat bread (with chick peas blended with tahini, garlic & lemon juice), Feta cheese (Greek Feta, oregano, olive oil & walnut), Moussaka (A spicy dip prepared with crushed walnuts, red pepper paste, Pomegranate juice & extra virgin olive oil), and Warak Enab (grape leaves stuffed with rice, oil & vegetables, cooked in lemon juice)and a Greek Salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, feta cheese & kalamata olives) it was very tangy & spicy. Then came the hot appetizers; San Bousek (homemade dough, ground beef, onion spices & pine nuts)~these were made into little balls like a meat ball & very good, Fried Kibbeh ( egg shaped shell of beef and burgol stuffed with ground beef, pine nuts& onion) also very good, Lamb Kabobs (yuck) and Quail halves~very good !!! Finally at 11pm the main entreeswere brought out. There were huge platters of lamb chops and chicken kebabs, strips of tender roast beef, bowls of rice, mashed potatoes & gravy. After the guests had finished the main entree, they cut the lovely birthday cake that was ordered from an Armenian bakery. It was so good, but not sweet and rich like a cake say from Costco. The servers brought out pots of tea and a strong coffee to go with the cake. Then after the cake they brought out platters of fruit~grapes, pieces of oranges, honeydew and cantaloupe.........and more tea. I think you can tell that no one went away hungry.
The disk jockey that had been hired was also of Armenian descent. Hope had asked him to play traditional Armenian & Persian folk music as well as American rock'n roll and easy listening. Let me tell you these people love to dance. Hope had some games planned but that never happened. They were dancing almost non-stop in between eating. Even the older ones were out on the floor. And their traditional dancing is different than ours. It really is a lot like the traditional belly dance....they dance alone, with their hands in the air. It was so fun to watch these dear people having the time of their life.
I mentioned in one of my emails while I was gone, that there was a belly dancer there too. We never did find out if the restaurant owner brought her in or one of Jerry's friends hired her. I've only seen a belly dancer on TV and it was interesting to see this in person. I understand it's very common in the middle eastern countries.
After the belly dancer left, Jerry disappeared to the upstairs of the building and changed into a rented Elvis costume, complete with black wig, sunglasses and guitar. The DJ started playing "Jail House Rock" and down the stairs he came. Some people didn't know who it was until his wig fell off (that was so funny) and then they knew. He put on quite a show. We all laughed and cheered him on.
Finally, everyone was fed and danced out by about 1:30am. We loaded up balloons and decorations and got back to Hope and Jerry's house a little after 2am. That's the latest I've been out in a long time. We were exhausted but it was so fun. And it was so wonderful for me to finally meet the friends and business partners I've heard about for so many years. Also Jerry was thrilled that 13 of his high school classmates & their spouses from "the old country" are now living in the Pasadena area and were able to attend. They all sat together at one table & it was obvious it was like a "mini high school reunion."
I told Jerry...my life is complete...I've been to a genuine Armenian birthday party. It was really a blast.