Preparation

Cakes

The day before the wedding is furiously busy. The cooks are cooking up a storm; some folks are unloading truck-loads of drinks; others are washing cars. Lawns have to be mowed, flowers picked up, cheese bought (oscypek, traditional smoked sheep cheese).

The Cooks and the Cakes

Cutting with an insetThe four cooks began working Tuesday, actually. First order: making the cakes. Because it’s part of the Polish wedding tradition to give departing guests a small box of cakes to take home, about double the logical amount of cakes are necessary. In other words, the cooks baked enough cakes for double the people.

An abbreviated view of the assorted collection is above-right.Loading the fire

Thursday and Friday the cooks were chopping, grinding, frying, boiling, and everything else imaginable. And they were loading the main stove with coal, for people still cook with traditional ovens and stoves here.

Four cooks, four days: that makes an estimated 130+ man hours just for preparing the food.

The Drinks

The drinksThe amount of beverages for a twelve- to fifteen-hour party of one hundred forty people is almost back-breaking. Soft drinks, juices, and mineral water was on every table in abundance, and this meant it all initially had to be delivered and worse, taken upstairs.

Fortunately, we had quite a bit of help doing this. (Actually, “we” is not quite right, because I wasn’t even there. I was off on another errand.) But when the party was over and all the empty bottles and unconsumed beverages had to be taken back downstairs, there were just two of us: my Dad and I.

The Decorations

Over a thousand balloons were used to decorate the hall. Instead of ten of us sitting around half a day blowing up balloons, we hired a company to do it.

The tables were all our responsibility, though.

The Car

Dave and Dad get down to the details

Dave and Kuba wax as Jan (my father-in-law) supervises

“Now this is history,” someone commented as we cleaned the car. “Four Americans cleaning a Pole’s car!”

It’s inconceivable to go to a wedding in a less than perfectly clean car, so Dave and I set out cleaning it, inside (i.e., even deep into the trunk) and out Frday afternoon. Soon my father joined us, and Mom held the hose for a little while, giving rise to the history comment.

Dave drinks to Kuba as Dad and Jan look on

Of course, what’s the good of cleaning a car in such a big group if there isn’t a little bit of socializing going on as well? Jan called us all into the garage from time to time and gave everyone a shot ofwedding vodka and instead of a chaser, we sampled the wedding oscypek. AndJohnny, the best man, dropped in for a while on his way from Liverpool (!?!), making for a nice little afternoon.

And finally: the car’s washed; the food’s prepared; the clothes are ready

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