Celebrating Thanksgiving outside of the U.S. isn’t completely clear cut. I was really excited to attempt to make some Thanksgiving foods this year (pumpkin pie, turkey or mac n’ cheese), but then I realized–canned pumpkin barely exists in stores, turkeys aren’t really around until Christmas and there is no Velveeta (and essential ingredient in my family’s mac n’ cheese). I ended up glad that a friend of one of J’s coworkers offered to cook for us–yes she must be crazy offering to cook Thanksgiving single handed for 13+ people, but we’ll get to that.
Since you don’t get Thursday or Friday off what did you do for actual Thanksgiving?
Thanks for the question. I wasn’t planning on doing anything really. I went to work, ended up there late (until 6 pm) in a meeting and got a spontaneous call from J asking if I wanted to meet him and a coworker at a diner for Thanksgiving. Eating something besides leftover tacos from 2 days ago for dinner? I was in. I met them in Soho and they were already at the bar enjoying some American-liquor only cocktails (their rule, not the diner’s). The diner was trendier inside than any I’ve seen in the US (indie pseudo-diners in NYC or DC don’t count). We were escorted to a booth by a cowboy (yes the servers were dressed up like cowboys and indians), but we made him snap a picture with us since we couldn’t stop laughing that they thought cowboys and pilgrims were basically the same thing. It was a cooler outfit than a pilgrim’s… it came with toy guns!
We sat down and immediately ordered milkshakes–chocolate and pumpkin pie. I decided on a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries (my first burger since I moved here if you can believe it). J had their Thanksgiving special–turkey burger with cranberry sauce and sweet potato fries. Coworker got his burger with mac n’ cheese, so we had almost all the trimmings on the table. Now the food was good (better than some of the diners back home–less greasy), but we were over the moon the whole time becuase it felt a bit like home. We have been here long enough (and I without eating things such as fries, burgers and shakes) that we were craving a bit of home. It didn’t feel like a cop out, it didn’t feel cheesy (though it kind of was). We were happy to be the loud Americans over in the booth getting excited over diner food. Since I couldn’t transport all of my normal family Thanksgiving foods here (with the family preferably) then I’d have to say this was the best day-of-Thanksgiving substitute.
So when did the expat Thanksgiving happen?
Wonderful, crazy cook’s Thanksgiving dinner was on Saturday. We went over to coworkers’ (1 & 2) house and food was already ready for the most part. Everything was spread out on the few coffee tables and small kitchen table (mostly held the huge turkey) wrapped in foil and peaking my curiosity. When (mostly) everyone arrived it was time to turn cocktail hour into dinner time. Cook and sous chef began to uncover the platters showing spinach salad, french bread, mashed potatoes, sweet potatos, carrots & parsnips, routebaggah, breaded cheesy artichoke hearts, a pan full of cranberry sauce, stuffing, and the infamous hard-to-find organic 80 pound (the currency not the weight) turkey.
I was a little nervous to see the vegetable-focused Thanksgiving. It was one of the healthiest ones I have probably ever had–there was no cream or butter in the potatoes, everything was just mashed. Everything was delicious though. I found out I like parsnips, think routebaggah is okay and absolutely adore her brined, very herby tasting turkey. I had at least two plates and at least two pieces of her amazing pumpkin pie and homemade whipped cream with allspice afterwards. It did make me a bit homesick because it was different from my normal Thanksgiving foods (the unhealthy mac n’ cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, brown sugar honey ham— you can tell I’m still craving can’t you?), but Christmas is just around the corner (in the US Dec 15-26!)
Overall Thanksgiving was great despite being away from home. There were a few I-don’t-really-know-you-but-I’m-eating-your-food moments, but we were a bunch of Americans (Canadians, one Brit and one Swede) feasting in our home away from home and that was enough to bring us together for an evening. Next year, I’d like to have a hand in some Thanksgiving cooking and I’ll try not to be so lazy when looking for substitutes for the ingredients for my mom’s recipes that aren’t sold widely here (no instant pudding!). One thing is certain–the diner day-of-Thanksgiving tradition is a must.
Love you all and looking forward to seeing many of you over Christmas!