Transatlantic Thanksgiving

I may have gone to a Christmas carnival on Thanksgiving Day, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to miss out of the Thanksgiving food. Instead of making the whole meal myself, I decided to host a potluck amongst friends, what is commonly known as a “Friendsgiving.” Because of logistical reasons, we had to host it on Sunday instead of the actual day, but as long as there was turkey and stuffing, I didn’t care. It was mostly my floormates and I. I simply put up a sign in the kitchen and just about everyone put their name down.

The tart pans were so shallow that we had to make too pumpkin pies. Such a burden.
The tart pans were so shallow that we had to make two pumpkin pies. Such a burden.

One girl in particular, who volunteered to do the turkey, really got into it. She insisted on making three pies as well, so the night before our RA and I helped her make pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies. We had to fudge a couple of things to make the recipes work. The pecan in particular. The British apparently don’t have (or don’t commonly have) corn syrup or molasses, so we substituted golden syrup and treacle syrup, same consistency and both made out of sugar but slightly different flavor. We were lucky to acquire an imported can of pureed pumpkin, but we couldn’t find pie pans. We ended up settling with casserole dishes and tart pans. Despite our modifications though, they all turned out good in the end.

Then on Sunday, we started cooking the real deal: the turkey. But when I unwrapped the relatively small frozen bird, it was limbless. Not a wing or drumstick in sight. We couldn’t believe it. The girl who insisted on pies also brought along her British boyfriend to help and even he said that wasn’t normal. The thing is, though, the British don’t normally have turkey until Christmas, he said. That’s when they stuff their faces on the appropriate holiday dishes, including a massive turkey. But this was still November. No good Brit would make a turkey now, so the grocery stores don’t normally stock them.

We had no choice but to settle for what we had and continue on with our meal. While my floormate and her boyfriend worked on the turkey, I began making the stuffing. Stuffing: my favorite Thanksgiving dish. My mouth waters every time I think about it. I had bought bread in Belgium and was using it to make this traditionally American dish. (Again, I wonder at the truly international nature of the world.) It was the first time making it myself, so I was a little worried. I needn’t had been. I may have put a little too much broth in, but other than that it was pretty darn good.

While we were waiting for things to cook, we showed the British boyfriend the boring yet obligatory Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, and then carried on to American Christmas specials, comparing the two country’s annual holiday shows. The only one that seemed to carry over was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He hadn’t even heard of the 1950s puppet version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Us Americans couldn’t believe it. My floormate then delighted in telling him about the song and movie Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer. We gave him a little concert, and I whipped out my southern accent. He simply looked at us aghast.

The Thanksgiving spread.
The Thanksgiving spread.

Eventually other people started to show up, so we poured some wine and continued talking or preparing last-minute dishes. The food started to pile up. Our RA, who’s from Spain, and the British boyfriend began to gape. My floormate and I just smiled impishly.

In total we had: turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, biscuits (American), green beans, corn, carrots (2x), broccoli and cauliflower, sweet potato fries, cranberry sauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, ice cream, and whipped cream. It’s safe to say we stuffed ourselves silly, especially the Brit who was thoroughly impressed with Thanksgiving and couldn’t understand why the British didn’t have it.

All I can say is: Mission accomplished.

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