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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dinner Party Entertainment and Halloween: North American Exports

We threw our first dinner party in Spain a couple of weeks ago.

Here I am with Victoria and Javier who we met at the Aparthotel during our first month here. They are from Madrid, but only moved back recently after 8 years living in New Cannan Conneticut and San Paolo. Not being used to city life, Matt and I did not realize that the other guests were circling the block for 20 minutes looking for places to park.    
Sandra showing off her flan. The national dessert of Spain.
This is Sandra. (Not at our house now, I did not get a pic of her there) She and Stefano and their two daughters were the first people here to befriend us. Sandra is from Mexico. Stefano is from Switzerland and they met in London where they had both gone to learn English. Their children have grown up in the States as well as Belgium and now Spain, and they speak English, Spanish and German. Their history is not unusual at the American School.

Here are Adele and Iris at their house in September, with their daughters and a couple of other girls.
Also at our party were Yoshiko and her husband Hiro. I met Yoshiko in the cooking class that Sandra has organized.  Hiro works for the Japanese government to facilitate cultural exchange with Spain.

 The kids ate first so that we could wash our modest supply of glasses, utensils and so forth.

Coming from the suburban culture of Concord, where finished basements, large yards, and vast quantities of games and toys seem ubiquitous, I had worried about what the kids would find to do in our small and sparsely attired apartment. Turns out that 3 varieties of ice cream is sufficient to entertain 6 girls in a kitchen. And “Apples to Apples”
Followed by a Disney Game that you play on the TV set was enough for everyone for after dinner entertainment.
We played the adults vs the children.
Each team had to be the first to identify the Disney Character or spot the Mickey Mouse Ears.

                                           The adults were as into this as the children,

Kids and adults of all nationalities played this game with enthusiasm and expertise. Matt and I were probably the least well versed. We also seemed to be the only ones who felt a sense of resentment and distrust toward the Disney Corporation for their game that seems so well designed to reinforce people’s knowledge and attachment to Disney characters.

Strange to consider that Mickey, who Walt Disney based on his pet mouse, Mortimer (his wife pursuaded him to change the name for the cartoon), nearly 85 years later has become one of the world's most familiar icons.

I commented on this to Yoshiko who said that in Japan, Disney movies and characters are so well established, so familiar, that people don’t think of them as being from the United States or anywhere in particular. People think of them as a part of their own culture. We wondered if perhaps Hello Kitty

and Manga novels and films

 have become absorbed into other cultures in the same way. Are people aware that they are Japanese exports?

And speaking of exports:
Halloween at the American School of Madrid.

What do Americans abroad miss most?  Hamburgers, peanut butter and Halloween would all be strong contenders. Peanut butter is not often embraced by those who did not grow up with it, but hamburgers and North American style Halloween inspire many. At ASM, which is just 1/3 Americans, the Halloween Carnival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and this year about 1,400 hamburgers were sold.

Here is Matt, doing his community service at the grill. Most of his hour long shift he was obscured by smoke.

I do believe I had the better job, or jobs.

My first contribution was a life size witch that I painted in my “studio”, that is the space between the red couch and the wall in the living room,

My second contribution was to do face painting:

I have to give the headmaster, Bill O'hale, credit for coming as a witch, and having me paint his face.

Iris’s teacher, Ms. Law, opted for the day's favorite, a demure jack-0-lantern.

 This activity brought me back to many years of face painting at the Thoreau School Cake Walk, as well as assisting Mr. Lemaire with make-up for his annual production of “Monster Madness”.

Adele helped out

Iris with her friend, Caroline.

Adele with friends

In the gym
I don’t think I have realy managed to capture this event in my photos. If I had seen this carnival depicted in a Hollywood movie I would have thought it was  unrealistic, overdone but definitely entertaining.

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