Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thanksgiving Lists

I've been pretty lucky this far in my life in that the Thanksgiving dinners I've eaten the second Monday of every October have always been prepared by other people. Sure I've helped out, stirring the cranberries here and basting the turkey a bit there, but on the whole I haven't contributed much. It's always looked like a lot of work, but I never realized just how much until this past weekend. 

As the whole giving-of-thanks thing doesn't really exist on this side of the Atlantic, I thought I would take things into my own hands by preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever. Minus the turkey, that is, because a) British shops don't sell turkeys this time of year due to the aforementioned nonexistence of the holiday in question and b) As I don't eat meat, the idea of touching/stuffing a huge dead bird really grosses me out. Ben roasted a chicken though!

Now this was a lot of pressure for several reasons: 
- Ben's family had never eaten Thanksgiving dinner (and I had been going on about how amazing pumpkin pie is, despite an article I read claiming that this vegetable-based dessert freaked many Brits out and was therefore terrified everyone wouldn't like it)
- It was proving rather difficult to find pumpkin pie filling; the only shop that seemed to sell pumpkin pie filling was out (which means there must be other Canadians somewhere in this town...) but luckily more got delivered at the last minute
- We were going to be seven altogether and I had never cooked anything for seven people at once, let alone a Thanksgiving dinner

But I was determined for this British Thanksgiving to be a success.

I started cooking around noon and apart from the chicken (which Ben made), the gravy (Ben) and the pie crust (Ben's sister Sophie) I made it all: 
- The pumpkin pie filling
- Spanakopitas (more Greek than Thanksgiving I know, but they're a good vegetarian substitute!)
- Vegetarian stuffing
- Beans and carrots
- Mashed potatoes
- Cauliflower cheese 
- Bread rolls

The preparation looked something like this:

Tracked down some canned pumpkin in the American section at Tesco!

This freaked me out a bit - had no idea the pie filling would be this runny!

Peeling potatoes

Ben's chicken!

Classic Ben, sneaking a bite of something

Veggies

It was a lot (and I mean a lot) of work - I now have considerably more appreciation for all the amazing Thanksgiving meals I've eaten over the years - but the end result was soooo worth it. To my relief, the food and even the pie were well received by the Brits (although they all saw how much work I put into it so I doubt they would have told me otherwise) and Ben's family even said they want to make Thanksgiving an annual event!

A very proud moment for me

Their first Thanksgiving dinner (from left to right): Sophie, Ellie, James (Ellie's boyfriend), Julie, Dave, Ben

PP, how I'd missed you

Champagne!

I'll end with just one more list, of what I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving:
- My wonderful boyfriend, who was absolutely worth moving across the world for
- My family, for supporting my nomadic lifestyle these last couple of years
- Ben's family, for letting Ben and I live with them while we look for jobs and making me feel like part of the family
- The friends who have made an effort to keep in touch since I've been traveling
- My health
- That I've had the incredible opportunity to spend a lot of the last two years exploring this wonderful world

Happy Thanksgiving from the UK!

3 comments:

dbohun said...


You got it perfectly right! It isn't about specific food, although we have created a whole culture about that. It is about giving thanks for our huge blessings, and about tradition, which carries our blessings forward. I'm so glad that people there are so supportive of your transition to a new country.

Susan Zwick said...

Love the comment Deanna~ and I loved reading how much the tradition has obviously "rooted" within Alex... For someone who has been revolted every year i prepare the bird... I got a real kick out of this blog ... Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving:)

Wondering and Wandering said...

Deanna - Absolutely, and yes I'm lucky to have people over here willing to put up with my Canadian-isms :) Thanks for reading!

Mom - Yep was great although missed you guys! xo