What happens when you combine an ancient game, Italian cocktails, Mediterranean-inspired food, and an enthusiastic group of Dames (and their husbands) on a warm summer’s evening in the western suburbs of Chicago? Fun, laughs and competition! On July 30, a group of Dames took to the courts in River Forests to learn and play the ancient game of Bocce Ball, a sport dating back to 5200 B.C. with roots throughout the Mediterranean. While the rules of the game have evolved and changed over the millennia, one aspect remains the same – the urge to throw and hit something is apparently a natural part of the human condition!
The evening began with Dame Rita Gutekanst hosting courtside, pouring invigorating libations – Negroni (see recipe at the end of this article) and Bellini- to fortify the enthusiasm of the group as well as their competitive spirit. Following instruction on the art of play by Dame Gina Voci and her husband Ed, the games began as each of four teams attempted to roll their way to victory, landing their balls nearest to the yellow “pallino” (little ball). The rolling “styles” of the players were almost as unique as the array of Mediterranean inspired dishes brought by each Dame, illustrating that creative talent takes many expressions! As several Dames were unable to make it, reinforcements were brought in, fielding a team of Millennials (Dame Jeanne McInerney’s son, Gina Voci’s daughter) who were soundly defeated by the opposing team – the Boomers. (“Participation Trophies” were NOT awarded to the Millennials . . . )
Following the games, all enjoyed a candle-lit potluck alfresco dinner in the Voci’s back yard. Listening to music, sipping wine, enjoying great food and convivial company, one of the spouses quipped that Bocce should be the official sport of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. As the evening wound down, a small group of Dames and spouses spontaneously sang and danced to classic rock tunes in the kitchen, proving that some Dames not only roll, but ROCK and roll!
Will we do it again? Join the fun next year for the second annual Dames Who Roll – rematch!