What better way to observe the US holiday that commemorates the pilgrims’ first harvest in a new land in 1612 than to celebrate in a country which became a unified state in 927 AD (the same country we ended up fleeing from). All kidding aside, it seems that a new tradition has started in the Andrews’ household where we spend Thanksgiving out of the country. Last year on Thanksgiving morning, while heavy snow fell David and I took the train along the coast from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. to celebrate the holiday with my Uncles. This year we were fortunate enough to celebrate with David’s sister and brother-in-law in London.
Lisa and Matt have hosted an American Thanksgiving the past two years. With 19 people on the guest list for this year, Lisa was happy to have extra hands. Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for 19 poses difficulties in the States in a regular sized house and kitchen; Preparing and cooking for 19 people in another country when all the appliances are a mini version of their American equivalent is a whole different story. With the previous years spreadsheets as a template, Lisa and I quickly started a new one which continued to grow longer with each day that passed. I had a new-found appreciation for my sister-in-law’s party planning abilities knowing that this was her third year orchestrating this horse and pony show.
We started more than a week before Thanksgiving making lists, gathering ingredients, and calculating recipes conversations. Celebrating abroad doesn’t change the basic fundamentals of the beloved American day of feast. We always seem to prepare for days, eat for hours and drink for however long you can. Thanksgivings abroad are usually celebrated on the Friday instead of on Thursday because no one has Black Friday off from work which would interfere with the drinking portion of the evening. During the days leading up to Thanksgiving we slowly wobbled (see picture of grocery bags below) to and from the grocery stores and the flat, spent hours in the kitchen preparing, and cleaned the kitchen what seemed like over 50 times. Lisa and I went back and forth between hysterically laughing, intensely prepping food and collapsing in front of the fireplace from exhaustion. Figuring out the time schedule for dishes to go into an oven that is the size of a microwave in the States was difficult. Throw two-18 pound turkeys into the mix and we had ourselves quite a challenge. Here was the menu that we put together:
Brandy Old Fashion’s
Oven Roasted Local Free Range Turkeys
(Brined for 18 hours in Cider and Stuffed with Apples, Onions & Herbs)
Homemade Stuffing with Apples
Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Scallions
Simply Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Candied Pecans
A Southern Comfort Andrews Family Corn Pudding
A Traditional Gruber Family Green Bean Casserole
A Trebino Family Italian Asparagus Al Forno
Parker Rolls, Artisan Rolls, Cranberry Sauce & Gravy
a selection of unpasteurized cheeses
Black Truffled Camembert, Basajo, Lincolnshire Poacher, Doddington
Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
The Gruber Family Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Whipped Cream
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Buckeyes
Five Layer Magic Bars
Needless to say, Lisa and I were exhausted by the time the guests arrived but fully ready to enjoy ourselves, food and friends. The thing I was most excited about wasn’t the food, or the table covered in wine bottles, but meeting Lisa and Matt’s friends. There were Brazilians, Brits, Irishmen, Canadians, Danish, Welsh, and of course the bloody Americans. I wasn’t my usual talkative self because I was sidetracked listening to all the accents and eavesdropping on conversations. I learned that people who are from the Essex area of England are similar and compared to the Jersey Shore in the United States. This was the most multi-cultured group of people I had been around and it was so enjoyable and educational. We played a party game called celebrity and I came away from the game wondering why Americans didn’t know as much about world politics compared to people in the United Kingdon and Europe. My faux pas for the night was telling my favorite Brit repeatedly that my pants were clean after an incident I had involving pumpkin pie. What I had forgotten was that ‘pants’ in England mean underwear and ‘trousers’ are pants. I now realize why he was laughing so hard. How’s that for culture?
My only regret is that we didn’t share another important part of the holiday with our non-American guests (besides eating until you fall asleep)….Giving thanks. As this year starts to wrap up, I think about memories from this past year. Thanks to the blog I don’t have to try so hard to recall details. I feel very lucky and truly blessed. As my London trip in half over, I think about the past few weeks and what an incredible opportunity it has been. Not only have I had almost a month to explore, enjoy and experience a foreign country, but more importantly I have been able to do it with my husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law. Family always has been and will continue to be the most important to me. I am so thankful for the people in my life who love, support and challenge me daily. Thank you to all my cyber friends who continue to support my blog and patiently wait for my less than regular posts (New Year’s Resolution #1: Post more regularly). I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving in the States shared with family and friends.
Christmas Cookie post coming up next!