Monday, October 12, 2009

happy (Canadian) thanksgiving, expats

yesterday, me and my fellow canadian expats decided that even though we are many time zones away from our mothers, there was no reason why we couldn't have our own Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in Europe.

well, actually, as i discoverd at my beloved Albert Heijn grocery store, there were a few reasons that we couldn't. most importantly: lack of turkey. apparently, turkeys are not native to Europe. i should have figured this out before from various hints (ie, the Pilgrims came to America and ate turkey there, or, the French word for turkey is "from India"). but i figured that in today's age of globalization, this would no longer be an issue. apparently not. i can get kimchi in holland, but good old Al Heijn doesn't even carry turkey cold cuts.

nor are was there cranberry sauce available. it took many minutes of painstaking translation to discover this ("no, not cherries, cranberries! you know, the juice you drink for urinary infections? hmmm...i don't know how to say urinary infection in dutch..."). this surprised me; it's not like cranberry sauce is all that exotic. but now that i think of it, i don't know what we North Americans use for cranberry sauce other than for Thanksgiving dinner. i briefly considered a disgusting but creative alternative (pitted cherries in cranberry juice?) but realized that nothing can replace the tarty deliciousness of cranberry sauce.

we learned to make do without. instead of having turkey, we invited Theresa over for dinner. and used chicken breasts. and for whatever we lacked in cranberry sauce, we made up for with an excess of stuffing, gravy, and wine, and amsterdam cakes to help us consume all the feast food. and some Canadian music in the background. my Neil Young, Rush, and Men Without Hats vinyls were all left back in Ottawa, but i did have some Tegan and Sara, Broken Social Scene, Kid Koala, Grady, and Kathleen Edwards to provide an appropriately patriotic background.

and in the end, isn't that what thanksgiving is about? not necessarily the turkey or the cranberry sauce, but spending time with good Canadian company (plus a few American and Italian hanger-ons - Canadian wannabes), good wine, good conversations (about hockey), and good food that puts you to a happy, happy thankful sleep.*

rob the chef

a feast, prepared by a Cordon Bleu trained cook.

digging in

can't forget about dessert...

the food was so good, jeff ate the leftovers with a knife. i have an awful lot of photos of jeff eating.

*i unfortunately did not get to partake in any of this happy happy thankful sleep. due to poor academic decisions this week, i had to immediately write an assignment that was due twelve hours later, after my thanksgiving dinner, so i ended up having a tired grumpy sleep instead at 5AM. still, the few blissful hours i got to spent wining and dining with my Canadian boys made for a pleasant Canadian Thanksgiving.