Mention doing a themed dinner, and instantly people cringe at the thought of wearing Lei's and hula skirts under a tiki lit sky, or watching knights jousting on horseback while drinking from tin steins.
But themed dinners can be an awesome way to have a good time with great friends. It instantly gets all of your guests caught up in planning the big event, and in addition to all of the great food you'll get to eat, you'd be amazed how much you can learn about foods from around the world.
One of my friends, Patrick, is originally from Argentina. Recently he was griping about how much he missed the awesome Argentinian grills he grew up enjoying. My eyes lit up as he described the feast of food that is put out at an authentic Argentinian dinner. Now, while I was not up to building a charcoal pit, or putting a side of beef on a home-welded spit, I was pumped at the opportunity to try and recreate some of the great dishes he described.
One of the fun things with a themed dinner, is getting your guests involved. With the internet these days, anyone can look up recipes and ideas in an instant. I had my guests bring a South American salad, artisan bread, and beef empanadas. That allowed me to focus on the party of the meal that interested me: the Argentinian Grill.
What I learned was that an Argentinian Grill is comprised of lots and lots of different meats, served one after another. None of the portions is especially large, as the vast array of food means you'd run out of room much to fast.
For dinner we had Argentinian wine, the empanadas & salad, merguez sausages, lamb kebabs, marinated chicken, salted ribs, and flank steak with chimichurri sauce. I'll have some of the recipes available next week over at Grill Interrupted.
The highlight of the evening for me was when Patrick broke out the Argentinian Mate. It's a very strong tea that is sipped from gourds through silver straws with filtered ends so that the tea leaves don't come through. How awesome?
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, it doesn't have to be a lot of work to have a really great dinner party that's a little off the beaten path. Whether you choose someone's home nationality, or a country in the news, or some place you've always wanted to visit: invite over some good friend, do a little research online, and have an awesome time!