Acción de Gracias

As all of my Americans get ready for their nice four-day-holiday-weekend filled with football and copious amounts of turkey, I decided it was my “American” duty to bring a hearty, Thanksgiving celebration right here to Sant Llorenc! Without the luxury of having Thursday and Friday off from school/work, I decided to celebrate this past weekend with my family and closest friends here in Spain. This was my very first time hosting a Thanksgiving dinner! Problem was, I got so caught up in the “idea” of having an international Thanksgiving celebration (inviting people, making place name tags, thinking about all the good traditional food we were going to have etc.) that I sort of disregarded how complicated coordinating and cooking a Thanksgiving meal actually is.

So there I was, Saturday morning…with all the ingredients in front of me, recipes chosen and a huge French turkey (yes, we did have to ‘import’ the turkey from Southern France as we apparently don’t ‘grow’ Turkeys here in Spain). My family was there with helping hands, and big smiles, asking, “So…what do we do next?” And all of a sudden, it dawned on me, “oh yeah, now I remember, my mom normally does all this.” After getting the turkey squared away and successfully marinating in the fridge for the next day’s feast, I was left alone to make the pumpkin pie. Simple, right. There’s the pumpkin, you just have to make it into a pie now (no pre-made canned pumpkin here folks). Well, after attempting to soften the pumpkin in the oven, I moved to the steaming technique on the stove. Everything was going great until I started trying to multitask with cutting up the ingredients for the stuffing and candied yams.

Before I knew it, the smell of the burning pan (which had since ran out of water for steaming) reached my nose and as I pulled the cover off, smoke started billowing out. At that precise moment (of course) my family returns from their errands…all I could bear to yell was, “I swear I am not burning down the house!” Santi runs into the kitchen and grabs the pot from my hands and begins to run it under cold water. The girls, excited about all the commotion, are yelling….Santi is trying to cool off the pan while asking me what happened…and of course, in proper Dominique fashion, I couldn’t hold it back and started bawling right there in the middle of the kitchen. Then of course the girls start following me around the house, “Why are you crying Dominique? Why are you crying?” The rest of the afternoon, as I was peeling potatoes, chopping salad fixings, and finishing the stuffing, I just couldn’t stop sobbing (don’t ask me why, a long, stressful weekend with nothing going right), as Santi kept telling me over and over, “It’s just a pumpkin, we will buy another one, don’t worry.” Luckily, later that evening I had a volleyball game which ended up being an incredibly exciting match and I came home with lifted spirits. With a new pumpkin, a clean pot, and no distractions, I knocked out one prize-winning pumpkin pie (kicked that pie’s &%# !!!)

 

Sunday morning was a whirl-wind, but we got the turkey to fit in the oven, the side dishes completed, and table set. Aside from forgetting that the turkey was going to take up the entire oven and thus, never getting around to making the candied yams, everything else turned out perfect.
  • Dry-curried Rosemary Turkey
  • Traditional Pan Gravy
  • Classic Cranberry Sauce
  • Stuffing made with green apples, raisins, onions and celery
  • Green Onion Mashed Potatoes
  • Apple-Fennel Salad with Walnuts
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes with a little cinnamon and nutmeg (improvised)
  • Pumpkin Pie (made with extra love by Domi)

Altogether there were two Americans, a German, and a bunch of Españoles. At one point we had three languages going at different parts of the table (English, Catalan and Castellano), while everyone was enjoying their great American feast! I did my best to explain the history behind Thanksgiving (which I, along with my American classmate, found to be quite difficult…’there were some Pilgrims and some Indians and they had a big dinner together’), followed by everyone going around the table saying what they were thankful for. Lots of wine and good Catalonian Cava was had, laughs shared, memories made. And although now I understand how incredibly stressful it is to host a dinner party, it was all worth it…or as we say in Spanish, valió la pena!

And because it is almost Thanksgiving back at home, I will take a moment to keep with tradition and say what I am thankful for. I am thankful for many things this year – family is a big one because right now, I have two! I am thankful for my parents, my brother and my little sobrino, Mason, who light up my day every time I see them on Skype. Although I am without them this holiday season, I know they are incredibly happy, proud and supportive with my decision to move to Spain. I am thankful for my Spanish family – Roser, Santi, Laia and Nuria – who have taken me into their home and accepted me as a member of their family this year. I am thankful for all my Spanish friends here in Sant Llorenc who have adopted me into their lives and welcomed me with open arms. Lastly, I am thankful for having met and become so close with “Hombre” this year (ex-landlord, salsa partner, deepest confidant). It’s an unlikely friendship (obvious massive age gap), but through reading his books and having endless conversations, over copious amounts tea, about travel and my needlessness for men, he has been my inspiration and motivation behind following my dreams.

A BIG HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM 6,000 MILES AWAY CALIFORNIA!

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