I apologize for not posting sooner, but several events transpired over the weekend that prevented me from fully explaining to you the wonder that was … “A Thanksgiving Abroad”.
To start, I’d like to give you some very well know, but easily forgotten (and without a doubt, crucial to the story) facts about Thanksgiving:
1. It is a completely American holiday. (That means no one else remembers or celebrates the “day” that pilgrims brought diseases from the old world into the new world and then slaughtered some Native Americans, or you know, we all sat around the table and gave Thanks for the new world.)
2. It is a holiday devoted ENTIRELY to eating. Now it may not have originally started as an eating holiday, but now it most certainly is. (Meaning that it is a marathon, not a sprint, as some non-Americans quickly learned.)
3. Finally, it is the ONLY holiday in the entire year where every American (unless they opt otherwise) regardless of religion, gender, race, etc. observes a family oriented holiday (because the 4th isn’t an entirely family oriented holiday– which I will get to in a later post – and New Year’s isn’t either).
Now perhaps from the fact reminders that I have just laid forth you can guess certain parts of the coming story…
I started Thanksgiving this year by…going to work! It was definitely a weird experience to be far away from the U.S. for such a fundamental holiday. But unlike Election Day where everyone around the world was so enthralled by the election and there was still an intimate connection with the U.S. on that day, Thanksgiving seemed MILES away. Fortunately, as Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, it was the beginning of the weekend here.
As a large office group, we went to the Beach Rotunda Hotel for a Thanksgiving buffet. The U.S. Embassy had reserved several tables for the meal and we attempted to turn an original reservation in the Embassy section of 8 people into a reservation for 18 (we had an additional reservation for the buffet but not in the Embassy section). We were not successful.
However! Through some skillful haggling and yelling by one of my co-workers, we all received the Thanksgiving special that the U.S. Embassy group had (it included a free glass of sub-par wine).
As this is a holiday devoted to eating, the buffet was a lovely spread filled with typical Thanksgiving food. As a group of Americans, what item do you think we went for first? Turkey? Stuffing? Cranberries? Wrong!
SUSHI! But that statement by itself is what made it Thanksgiving. We indulged our completely American pleasures and went for sushi first, as the buffet also had non-typical Thanksgiving food like sushi, Arabic Traditional, as well as an extensive seafood buffet (which consequently allowed me to try caviar for the first time – not bad…).
The turkey was ok, a little dry. The mashed potatoes were delicious and there was even a garnish of crispy garlic pieces on top (several of my favorite foods rolled into one). I also had some delicious cold potato soup from the seafood bar. The wild rice wasn’t great (I definitely missed my mom’s wild rice as well as her broccoli puree thing…yum!). Finally, the cornbread was apparently horrible. And the stuffing looked like an uncooked Tollhouse roll of cookie dough.
As for dessert, the pumpkin pie looked remarkably similar to some sort of tart. I went for the flourless chocolate cake with small currant berries. It was just as good as it sounds.
To finish off, we had a couple additional glasses of sub-par wine. All in all, it was no Thanksgiving in the States, but I got my mashed potatoes and wine, so I was a pretty happy camper.
We did have a couple Brits join us for dinner who upon completion of the meal, realized that they had not paced themselves enough and felt slightly ill (rookies).
I hope that everyone’s Thanksgiving was as wonderful as they hoped it would be. But please know that I missed all of you immensely!