Well it all started back in the summer when a friend of ours asked if we would be willing to host the lunch for the CAI (Club Alpino Italiano) youth section activity day. With a little trepidation, probably due to my lack of Italian, I politely enquired what his definition of “host” was so as not to get completely caught out looking after 20 odd kids all afternoon. Fortunately host in this instance meant letting the CAI instructors use our Pizza/BBQ area for preparing the food for when the kids had map read their way down the mountain. Great, no looking after kids and a free lunch (never one to complain about that!!!). And so it was that we hosted the lunch with the volunteer cook (Vincenzo – normally head of the mountain rescue service) turning up at 8am with all the ingredients and untensils and setting to work on the largest bowl of pasta I have ever seen, followed by some BBQ kebabs and then roast pork sandwiches and a salad – a light lunch then!
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with christmas and quite rightly so, but it seems that the president of the Ascoli branch of CAI (an important chap it appears) who was present at our lunch (it was at our house after all) thought it was such a good event and liked the self catering concept so much that he decided it would be a good idea to go self catering for the next event, which just happened to be the christmas function. Hopefully you can now see the link!!! So poor old Vincenzo had to step up to the mark once again, dust off his culinary skills and with the assistance of a few volunteers/pressed men (maybe next time) serve dinner for the 140 club members who attended (fortunately not at our house this time but at a rather trendy club house with a large open fire right in the middle of the room). As is the norm in Italy you can’t just have a starter, main and pudding but he served a five course fish extravaganza with wine (should have known it was not going to be small having seen his lunch) and then pudding. Now thats a dinner.
So what great news, having left an organisation that prides itself on throwing a good christmas function and thinking that was it for parties, we have now discovered another benefit of being CAI members.