That Food Guy
Thursday, February 09, 2012
  Andy's Surprize Birthday Party - January 22, 2012
Andy with a piece of Birthday Cake

Food plays an important role in life and has helped to shape some of our more familiar customs and habits. Beyond the obvious, that without food we perish, its importance has been instrumental in our developing customs and activities of life. Match that with another element, fire, that has been equally important in protecting our developing species, and you have two of the paramount forming elements that still mingle in our daily lives today. In days long past, to share food was to share life, to share food could put your own life at risk, to share food was the ultimate act of kindness and consideration. From our humble beginnings when sharing of food was love, we can appreciate that today when we wish to extend the hand of friendship, to express love and admiration, we share our food.
Andy Charles, Happy Birthday
Andy’s birthday was a surprise event for Andy. Family and friends toiled hard, in secrecy (probably the hardest part), in collusion, to arrange the party to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. It was to be a party with lots of good food to eat and birthday cake too! The elements of our beginnings in the dawn of time show themselves in this modern day when friends and family come together to pay their respect to one of their honored members with lots of good food to eat.
With a large extended family and lots of friends, the guest list would be long, at least 30 people. The village common room was reserved for adequate space and the invitations went out. All the planning and preparation was in secret, no mean feat considering how observant Andy is, and the end result was a grand party that was truly a surprise for Andy.

The logistics of feeding all those people dictated a combination of buy-out food and home-made dishes. The main course was provided by Sunway. There were heaping platters of sandwiches, a mixture of turkey, roast beef and Italian combo. There were bags and bags of individual serving chips of all kinds. Family friend Roselyn provided bowls of a luscious fresh fruit salad. Andy’s sister Kathy provided a mixed garden salad and a wonderful pasta salad to round out the food offerings. Drinks were provided as well and included a choice of soda flavors, iced tea and a large urn of sangria (very popular or so I’m told).

As I mentioned, the party venue is a community place and provided a space for many varied events including Bingo and watching football parties. For Andy’s party, the existing décor items had to be stored, the tables and chairs arranged and fresh tablecloths put down. After that the food had to be brought in and plated. The drinks had to be iced and the urns filled with the delightful beverages. It was a whirlwind of activity, even as the guests were arriving, until the last chore had been done and all that was needed was to await the arrival of the guest of honor.
I don’t know what ruse they used to get Andy to the clubhouse on time but it was an effective subterfuge. Andy walked in the door almost to the minute planned to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday To You…” Andy was quick to regain his composure and he wandered around the room cordially greeting each of the guests. After a short interlude, it was time to eat and the line quickly formed to the rear.

There certainly was plenty of food and no one had to worry about not getting enough to eat that day. I took a turkey and a roast beef sandwich section along with samples the three salads and a bag of potato chips for good measure. Subway does a good job preparing large orders. They have special boxes for the large orders that keep the sandwiches flat and protect them from crushing. They were what you would reasonably expect from Subway. The salads were excellent. The tossed green salad was a mixed greens with lots of cherry or grape tomatoes. There was a choice of the more popular dressings as well. The pasta salad was made with curly multi-colored pasta, fusilli tricolori I believe, cooked just right and spiced with bits of sweet peppers. The fruit salad was made with fresh cantaloupe and watermelon, grapes, blueberries with bits of crunchy pineapple; all so very tasty. The samplings of sandwiches and salads made for a very full plate and a satisfying meal.

Here was lots of good chatter, catching up on what has happened since the last family get together. There were even a few re-runs to the food line for second helpings. When the initial clamor of the feeding finally died down, it was time for the traditional birthday cake. A four-inch high half sheet cake with lots butter cream frosting, it was bedecked with a token but respectful candle. Andy was duly appointed to cut the cake and he was a generous server laying big slices of
the half chocolate and half white cake servings on your plate. If you eat a salty chip a few minutes before you eat your cake you will be amazed at how much sweeter the cake and frosting taste.

After the serving of the cake it was the almost universal signal that the festivities were winding down and near a conclusion. In trickles many of the guests paid their respects and departed for home. A few remained and the joint-effort clean-up of the community room began. The food was cleared away and parceled out to all who wanted some to take home, the dishes were washed, the tables cleared and the trash collected and bundled. In short order the clubhouse was ready for the next event, perhaps a Super Bowl party.

It was a nice festive gathering where friends and family came together to celebrate the birthday of one of their own by sharing food, a custom that dates from the time of earliest man. I think it was an excellent example of keeping an ancient tradition alive. We wish to thank you for being invited to be part of the family group and the celebration. It was fun and we enjoyed ourselves very much. Our heartiest thanks are extended to all those who made it possible. Happy Birthday Andy!

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