Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's Party Time

I never really thought about a party having significant cultural differences.  I've always viewed a party as just a group of people getting together either to celebrate and/or socialize.  More often than not food, drink and music are included.  Of course, you expect these aspects of the party to have cultural variations, but you would think that the act of getting together would be pretty much the same.  My life as an expat has taught me that this is not necessarily true and that the act of getting together is  defined by cultures.  
Back in New Mexico at most parties, with exception of the occasional pot luck and family gatherings, the host and/or hostess provide everything.  At least this is how it happened in my circle of friends.  There were occasions when an exceptionally large get together took place when perhaps others would be asked to bring along a dish or two.  Those people were known for their cooking, and they would be able to provide a dish that not only fit in with the theme, but was scrumptious to the palate.  Guests would often bring an adult beverage or two which weren't meant to be served but rather to be put on a back shelf and enjoyed at a later date.  As I reflect back on these gatherings I realize that there was a bit of competition and a bit of the "Hostess with the Mostess" but over all they were very enjoyable events.  In fact, while in Spain I missed these gatherings.  
My Spanish friends never hosted at home--at least not for guest that were not family members.  Our parties/celebrations were held in bars.  A set menu would be arranged and we would all pay individually.  There was always plenty of food and drink, and the events would last for hours on end.  However, at Christmas time it sure got expensive!
When we arrived in Australia, we expected our party scene to be more like what we were used to in New Mexico.  We anxiously awaited an invitation to our first Australian Barbie.  The invitation may have been long in coming, but last summer we were finally had a first hand look at a party Down Under style.  I have to admit I was a bit taken back when the invitation included a request to bring our own main (meat for the barbie), a side to share, beverages, and chairs--I had to resist asking if they wanted me to bring the kitchen sink.  It turns out this is pretty common for parties in Australia.  A system that overall seems to work well, though it is a bit cumbersome when you rely on public transportation to reach the destination.  Of course, being the control freak foodie that I am, even when we have people over, even in Australia, I resort to my cultural roots and have my guests bring an adult beverage. 


  1. Hi Maya, very interesting post to learn about your expat experiences and how cultural differences can occur in some activities like hosting parties. Very enjoyable read. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Hi Kathy, it is funny where you find the cultural differences that you don't expect them. Thanks for visiting my blog and all of your comments.

  3. And we loved you doing it non-Aussie style:) Here, when you bring a bottle of wine it is meant to be opened and imbibed, which can be nice, particularly when you have quite a few brought to the table!

  4. Interesting. The Aussie way is somewhat similar to our wine tasting parties. Everyone brings a munchie and wine. In the summer, some hosts will fire up the BBQ and we all bring our own item to grill. It ends up great fun sharing.

  5. Suzer, I enjoyed cooking for you all. I still think it is strange how people open their own bottle when there are lots of other bottles open.

    Marta, over all I am impressed the way bringing food and sharing works. However, I am not really someone who is found of pot lucks--I have no idea why.