24 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

During the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Kristin and I planned to cook Thanksgiving dinner for many of the other Americans here in Eichstätt. We aimed, perhaps dreamed is more appropriate, for the true experience, complete with turkey, cranberries, sweet potato casserole, and other dishes. However, our original plans fell through due to many reasons, among which was the birth of a child and the expected change of priorities such an event typically brings. One day before turkey day, Kristin and I, with the consensus of the other Americans, conceded and rescheduled our Thanksgiving feast for next Thursday.

Though well aware of our new belated Thanksgiving plans, the more Wednesday progressed the more I wished to mark the true Thanksgiving day in some way. I simply couldn't except the other alternative of doing nothing. After some brainstroming, I arrived at the idea of hosting a small dinner in my apartment. I invited Charlotte, Federica, and Valleria, but Charlotte had prior plans, so one could say that I ended up celebrating an Italian Thanksgiving in Germany.

As for food, the prepeartion of essentially all traditional Thanksgiving dishes was infeasible due to my lack of an oven. Instead, we ate a typical Southern meal.

Federica and Valleria arrived early to help me cook. In the first photo below I'm frying chicken with Valleria's help, and with Federica's in the second.

We finally set down to eat at around nine o'clock, but the the girls told me that was about a normal time for a dinner in Italy. Here's a view of the table before eatting.

Following the holiday tradition, all portion sizes were beyond too big. I was actually planning on finishing the leftovers over the next fewdays, but to my surprise Federica and Valleria finished off everything but the coleslaw, which itself was consumed down to a few remaining spoon fulls.

Check it out, starting from the top left is a serving and half of garlic mashed potatos. Right of that is some simple coleslaw, with a slice of cornbread as its other next door neighbor. Earlier in the week after some experimentation, I discovered much to my delight that one can cook cornbread in a skillet on the stove top. The last food item on the plate is a zucchini squash mix. Ok, so maybe zucchini isn't that Southern, but I couldn't find yellow squash in any of the grocery stores or the market. And there was of course the fried chicken, but it was not yet on my plate for the photo. However, it too was mighty fine.

It didn't take long for me to notice that they were using the fork and knife to eat the cornbread. I told them it was ok for them to use their hands, and they slowly accepted it. Although, Valleria would still use her fork and knife from time to time. They told me that they never eat with their hands in Italy.

Valleria and Federica agreed that this food was very different than Italian food. Considering the amount they ate though, I think it agreed with them fairly well. Federica even licked the mashed potato serving spoon clean.

Naturally, after dinner came dessert, and here I was able to use one traditional Thanksgiving ingriedent: cranberries.

I could only find one grocery store that sells cranberries, and I bought the last package. These cranberries were also from America, so even more fitting for the day. When I first took the berries out of my fridge Valleria's eyes opened wide with curiosity. She and Federica had never seen such things before.

Usually my mom makes a cranberry compote, but that requires an oven. I mixed the cranberries with walnuts, chopped apples, oats, and other ingrediants together. Then, not really sure what would happen, I tossed it all into a skillet as Valleria and Federica watched over my shoulder. I blew a silent sigh of relief as it slowly formed into a concoction with a consistency similar to that of a cobbler. Next I dolled out the servings into our bowls and instructed the girls to pack it down tightly. A little confused, they complied. Finally, I broke out the ice cream and scopped that out on to the top of the cranberry dessert.

The idea of mixing a warm dessert with ice cream was foreign to the girls. I have noticed the same thing with other Europeans. Kristin told me that when she served our apple pie to her dorm mates she also offered vanilla ice cream, but most of them were turned off by the idea of combining the two. As foreign as it may have been to them, Federica and Valleria took to the idea without much hesitation.

After we finished, the girls were gracious enough to stick around and help me wash dishes. I told them they didn't have to, but they said they were used to it. They said that few men in Italy will cook or clean, so they found it a little funny that I could do both.

Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving away from home, and could potentially become my only Thanksgiving outside of America. Nonetheless, I had an enjoyble time and felt fortuante for more current experience in Germany. One thing's for sure, it was my most unique Thanksgiving to date.


LaFon said...

Hi Nicholas, I 'm over at your mom and dad's house reading your blog for the first time. I'm sorry to say Leslie Anne and Allison are not here to enjoy this blog with me. I will be sure to share the the site with them upon my return to Brookhaven. I never wanted to go over to Europe, however after reading some of your comments and seeing your pictures, it makes me want too!
Auntie LaFon

Aunt Janie said...

Hi Nick, your Grandma and I have just finished reading your Thanksgiving blog and viewing your pictures. It looks like you are fast becoming a gourmet cook.
It was good being with your Dad, Mom and Austin on Thanksgiving, but we missed you. Keep up the good work and take care.
Love you. Aunt Janie & Grandma

Jerri Jo said...

Hey cuz! Well, I'm just reading your blog for the first time. It is very entertaining. I still think you need to compile all of these and publish a book! We missed you on Thanksgiving at your Grandma's but I'm so glad you're getting to experience all that you're getting to experience. Keep up the good work and we'll see you soon! Love Ya! Jerri Jo

Nick O. said...

Aunt LaFon: I'm glad you got a chance to read the blog, and please do share it with Allison and Leslie Anne. I would definitely recommend for you to take a trip to Europe. It is beautiful and fascinating place.

Aunt Janie and Grandma: I do enjoy cooking, especially when the food is completely new for people. I just may be asking your chocolate pie recipie one day, Aunt Janie. I missed you for Thanksgiving too, but I'm glad you spint it together.

Jerrie Jo: Of course I thought about you and the rest of the clan too on Thanksgiving. I'm glad you enjoy my posts, and thanks for the comments. Perhaps a book would be possible, I'll be thinking about it.