In the belly of the feast

By Rose

Our reception will be held at San Chez Bistro in Grand Rapids, which specializes in Spanish-style tapas. Scott and I have never had a bad small plate here, and we hope you’ll enjoy the creative dishes prepared by the outstanding San Chez chefs as much as we do. Thinking about food (as I frequently do) has me thinking about wedding meal traditions in other cultures. What would we all be eating on May 20 if we were living in another region of the world? I found the following info from (where else?).


A roasted baby pig or lamb accompanied by wanda, bow ties of fried dough dipped in powdered sugar. Women sip Marsala wine, men guzzle the much stronger grappa (go ahead and guess who’s in store for a hangover). Confetti — sugar-covered almonds (or Jordan almonds, as we know them) representing the bitter and sweet of life — serves as snacks or, yes, projectiles thrown at the newlyweds as they make their exit.


Leave room for a 10- to 12-course banquet — another way families flaunt their wealth. The flashiest dish served is shark’s fin soup, which will drain anyone’s bank account quickly at $150 per guest. Other delicacies include bird’s nest soup (yes, made from real birds’ nests) and a whole fish, which is served because the word for fish, yu, sounds similar to the word for abundance.


Spicy rice, beans, and tortillas. Save room for the wedding cake, which is made with nuts and dried fruit — and soaked in enough rum to get everyone slurring during their toasts.


The traditional Swedish smorgasbord lasts for three days and can include sill (herring), lingonsylt (lingonberry jam), and köttbullar (Swedish meatballs).


Fish and chicken, ancient symbols of fertility, are often served. Guests may also dig into tajine (a chicken stew mixed with almonds, apricots, onions, and other spices that’s served with pita bread) and plenty of those candy-covered almonds, which are considered aphrodisiacs.

Those of you who are very close to me know I am way out of my element when it comes to wedding planning. The first time my sisters (who have been amazing throughout this process — if it weren’t for them and for my mom, I would still be lost) asked me what colors I wanted for the wedding, I had no idea what they were talking about. Colors? In addition to everything else, I have to choose colors?

That said, there were two aspects of the wedding planning that I did think I’d enjoy. The first was putting together a website, which I have finally now done (would have done it months ago, but life has been non-stop hectic). The second is doing the menu tasting at San Chez, which will probably happen around March. Yum! I may, however, need to grab Scott for a few extra research trips to San Chez before then — we want to be fully prepared for the gastronomic challenge of choosing the wedding day menu.

(About the photo: San Chez also has a cafe that serves breakfast. Scott and I have only been to lunch or dinner on the restaurant’s bistro side, and until last weekend, we had never tried the breakfast on the cafe side. The photo at the top of the post was what I ordered for Sunday brunch as we wrapped up our time celebrating Scott’s 30th birthday. The breakfast quesadilla features lavash filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, mojo onions and peppers. It’s grilled panini style with Manchego and Colby cheeses, and served with harissa sour cream and habañero salsa). 


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