Diane and I have had the pleasure of meeting wonderful people during our years in Marriage Encounter.Vinnie and Selma are a great couple originally from the tiny Catholic community of Southwest India.They love our home cooking parties.In fact we staged our very first home cooking party at their house.On that occasion, we had the good fortune of meeting Vinnie's college roommate from 25 years ago, Kinley, who was also visiting for the weekend from his home country of Bhutan.Kinley, a Jesuit priest, was in the USA for just a few weeks to meet with educators and education administrators to share ideas and make observations in a crash course before returning to Bhutan.
While he was born a Buddhist as is everyone in Bhutan, somehow he secretly found his way to Catholicism when he was still very young.Years later after he had completed college and was working at a regular job, he was traveling on business for his employer.He chanced to be on an airplane for many hours sitting next to Mother Teresa.After the two of them talked about life and the state of the poor in the world she said that she thought he should become a priest.Shortly after that chance encounter, he left his job and entered the seminary.
When we met him, he had spent the previous 20 years as a Jesuit priest studying, teaching and leading schools in India and had not been back to Bhutan for over a dozen years because of religious persecution.In the early 1990s, the King of Bhutan had thrown all practicing Catholics out of the country.In 2002, Kinley was invited back by the new King (his cousin) to become the principal of a school, but he was clearly instructed that he would not be allowed to evangelize or say mass in public.He would be the only Catholic priest in Bhutan.Kinley accepted.He and his Jesuit Bishop agreed there would be the opportunity to be a key educator of children, and Kinley would bring some presence of his adopted faith back to Bhutan, but before he could do all of that amazing work, he had to chop and cook his way through our home cooking party.
Kinley asked if he could add something to our planned menu.We delightedly accepted and during our prep work, he prepared a spicy Indian appetizer made of cilantro, red onions, chilies, oil, and some richly flavored crispy thin wheat noodles, all tossed together.Spicy but delicious!We eased through the appetizers looking at photographs of Vinnie and Selma's wedding in India.They had 1,000 guests over a 4-day celebration.Yes, I said 1,000!I thought 200 at our wedding was a lot, but noooooo they had 1,000!Vinnie is the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters and Selma also comes from a large family.So it is easy to get to 1,000 when you add all of the in-laws and cousins.
After we finished the dinner, we were all stuffed to the gills.My spring dinner wasnt light, but it was a hit in every other respect, and it was the easiest dinner I had ever prepared for a large dinner party because I had all of the guests working together prior to dinner.They had a ball and the idea for Home Cooking Parties forTM Eight was born.By the time we finished dessert, it was pushing and everyone was ready for bed.The next morning, Vinnie prepared a memorable Indian-inspired breakfast of curried eggs and spiced Indian flatbread.Whew!We sang a few Beatles songs with Vinnie on the guitar and Selma on the drums, and were ready for the road.
We shared many enlightening moments with Kinley, Vinnie, Selma, Ron, Millie, Rich and Sue that weekend while chopping onions and cilantro, cooking, serving each other, sitting, talking and walking through the lovely suburban Philadelphia neighborhood - all surprising and delightful additions to the weekend.That gathering of friends to prepare a Saturday night dinner grew into a complete weekend of stirring memories and proved to be the launching point for Home Cooking Parties.The extra Indian-inspired foods shared by Kinley and Vinnie became the inspiration to create this dinner of Eastern flavors.