Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey day far away

Celebrating holidays in foreign countries is usually a little frustrating, a little strange and often informative. There are many holidays that I can skip altogether and not miss.  Valentine's Day, Flag Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Halloween, even Independence Day. There are others that I have to celebrate and make me homesick. Thanksgiving is a must. Because so few countries have their own version, it can be a bit dicey to find a proper meal for it.
Two years ago in Spain I was invited to not one but two dinners.  The first was fairly traditional. Sarah prepared all, or nearly all, the food. My mistake was starting in with others on the champagne before the food was up for eating.  I ended up with a roaring head ache but still scarfed down turkey, salad, potatoes, stuffing and pie.  We were Americans, Mexicans and French. The conversation was nearly as good as the food.  Sarah is quite the cook and has since opened a bakery in her home state. There was food to go around and then some.

The second meal was a bit more haphazard, possibly a representation of the group in attendance. We were from the US, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela and I think there were another two or three countries represented. The food ranged from turkey to fried rice.  By that point I wasn't eating a lot but it was a hoot.  There was lots to drink and riotous laughter (ahem, something regarding my death). the food came in with the folks, a few at a time throughout the evening.

Last year I was lucky enough to be home.  It was a small group, just four of us.  We don't have much family left but what we've got is mighty tight.  My part in the day was to sit around, starving and whining until it's time to eat at about three or four o'clock. Then afterward I package the leftovers, clean up and wash dishes.  We've found that too many cooks in the kitchen may not spoil the soup but it has a higher probability of spoiling our moods. My mom and sister have a fantastic handle on the food, it's always amazing so I am happy to stay out of their way.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, and wine is our fare.  I realize everyone's is a bit different, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

This year in Jakarta I found out about a couple of restaurants hosting turkey dinners.  I chose the American Club, a sports and social club that you can have a membership to, but it isn't required to attend the dinner.  Their website said Friday night.  I thought I might even get two dinners again. When I called for reservations the hostess made sure to tell me it was actually on Thursday.  I had to message and email everyone to confirm plans (and this was when my phone was in the shop).   It was 288,000Rp all included, all you can eat buffet with one glass of wine.  Two friends accompanied me there, one was Donna who I've mentioned before, the other an Aussie who'd spent the last 14 years in Los Angeles. The eating commenced before Donna's arrival about 6:45.  We bought a bottle of Sauvignon from France, 2008 for 142,000Rp.  That's the cheapest wine I've seen in Jakarta EVER and it was quite nice!  The turkey was moist and wonderful.  The gravy was richer or slightly different than I am accustomed to, but good.  The cornbread stuffing was a little surprising and looked thick and dry but it wasn't.  Mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and green beans (not the casserole) rounded out my meal.  There was also roast beef and glazed ham available but I had to stick to the ole favorites. I also skipped the cold cuts, salads and pumpkin soup (after hearing it was disappointing) entirely.  Two plates later I worked my way through most of a slice of pumpkin cheesecake and a bit of chocolate mousse. I was painfully full when I left but had a huge smile on my face. A power outage 15 minutes after my arrival home couldn't even dampen my spirits, and it was the second outage this week.
Like this except mine was drowning in gravy, had more stuffing and no sweet potatoes.

I was homesick as Seattle was "enjoying" six inches of snow and for many people a six day weekend instead of the standard four for Thanksgiving break. I felt guilty that it was just my mom and sister this year, I felt robbed that I didn't get to stay home and sleep in today. It felt slightly off to have missed the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and football games. Yet, Thanksgiving reminds me how many people know I'm American and make a point of wishing me a happy day. I feel somehow slightly more connected to the greater American expat community by seeing all the well wishes and commiserating with the other homesick peri-patetic teachers (Thank you for one of my new favorite words blogland!).

Apologies that the blogs have been a bit sporadic lately. I've got a new one in mind and hope to get it up tomorrow. As an aside, I'd love to know who is reading my posts in places like India or Singapore or Australia.  Some of the countries on my readers list are places I know that I know at least one person (Japan, Spain, Denmark, the US, etc) and my assumption is that the person or people I know there must make up the readership.  I understand that you have elected to remain anonymous readers but my curiosity is piqued.

No comments:

Post a Comment