Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Fourth of July

Although we're never in America for the holiday, my family never misses the opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July. For the past four years, I've thrown 4th of July parties while we're on holiday in Italy, inviting our Italian friends to join us for the festivities.

This year we had the biggest celebration yet. I set an elegant table for 15 with Rosanna dinnerware I sent over from America:
Red Dots salad plates, Ice Blue Chargers from our Dinner Party collection, and our Dauphine candlesticks with red, white, and blue tapers.

The dinner itself was a delicious mix of Italian and American culture. Good old fashioned hamburgers with all the fixings, including French's bright yellow mustard, penne pasta with spicy tomato vodka sauce, and scottaditto d'agnello (baby lamb chops on the grill dressed with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil.) The meal was served with gorgeous Italian red wine from a small hill town in Umbria: a good time was had by all.

For dessert, as per tradition, our friend Vito had a cake specially made at a local bakery. It was beautifully decorated with an American flag and dainty red wafer roses. Underneath the white icing was a flakey, creamy mille feuille pastry (French for 1000 Layers) that was devoured by everyone in reverent silence after a rousing round of "Happy Birthday America," sang, of course, in Italian.

Our guest list included a mix of Italians curious about American history and ready to celebrate, and two friends from home, one from the quintessentially American state of Texas.

Our Fourth of July party was a perfect way for our Italian friends to learn about what it is to be American. Although many of the guests didn't speak each others' native tongue, they managed to connect across cultural boundaries all the same. Thanks to the Fourth of July, our family had the unique opportunity to show our Italian friends the best of America, and to debunk the stereotype of the McDonald's eating, Coke Cola guzzling, obnoxiously loud and ignorant American tourist.

It is my belief that the best ambassadors for America are not the politicians and appointed officials, but regular Americans who treat their foreign hosts well and are a good guests- open minded, respectful, positive, and curious- when traveling abroad. It is through person-to-person connections that America will find a way to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the global community. This is the best kind of diplomacy we can hope for.


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