Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Das Entedankfest a la Deutsch
Thanksgiving outside the US never works out quite right. In Chile my host-family insisted on having tomato salad (it being early summer in that particular hemisphere) and could not understand why this was problematic (tomato salad clearly not being a Thanksgiving dish). There wasn't a single stalk of celery (for the stuffing) to be found (apparently a seasonal vegetable in some parts of the world). And then they wanted to know why there was so much food. In Spain my parents were visiting and we caved and had paella, Thursday being paella day in Spain. Thanksgiving got off to a bit of a rocky start here as well. I knew that Turkeys are not readily available here, so I ordered one from the butcher where they are used to my strange questions and inability to express exactly what I mean. Last weekend, I happened to mention to a German woman that I would be celebrating the charming American holiday, Thanksgiving. "So, you´re going to eat Truthahn?" she asked. I immediately began to panic because I had not ordered a Truthahn, but a Pute. What sort of beast were we going to feast on? As it turns out, Pute is also turkey, but more specifically, a female turkey. One of the only things I learned in cooking school was that females tend to taste better than males, so all seemed in ordenung, as they say in these parts. Another expat Thanksgiving dilemna was that they gave (read: sold) me a much bigger turkey than I really wanted or needed (or had ordered for that matter). I also have a much smaller refrigerator than I really want or need. Brining was a bit of a challenge, but we managed by taking out some of the shelves. Still, it took up the entire fridge and had it been an inch bigger in any direction we would have had to roast it in pieces. Anyway, extreme proximity to heat worked out well and it browned very nicely, my herb paste visible through the golden skin. No picture....again....sorry! Gravy drippings were a different story and I do so love good gravy, but....maybe next year (with the cornish hens I have planned). With the exception of lumpy mashed potatoes, cornbread rolls, and roasted squash, the rest of meal came from guests, one of whom managed to score a jar of Trader Joe's cranberry chutney (cranberries being scarce in these parts) We also had a porcini mushroom stuffing, the ever-nostalgic greenbean caserole (sans Campbell's) and a glorious, soft-the-way-I-like-it cheesecake. I don't know if it was quite Thanksgiving...nobody argued about what time we should eat and there was no name-calling (just a few highlights of the traditional extended family Thanksgivings of my childhoods)...then again, this may be, in and of itself, something to be thankful for.