Giving thanks


My roommates have been asking me to make a Thanksgiving turkey since I arrived in Madrid more than three years ago. But this September some friends made a proposal for the dinner and, mainly since an American friend agreed to brave the Thanksgiving cooking with me, I acquiesced. Needless to say, my roommates were a bit miffed. But they got some leftovers and my practice pumpkin pie.

Spaniards are intrigued by Thanksgiving, probably because it’s at once strangely foreign yet familiar. (If my students are any guide, they appear to get most of their idea of Thanksgiving from films or TV.) But they are also drawn to the holiday because it has a rather universal appeal: eating with those you care about and giving thanks for whatever you feel like, no strings (in the form of religion and/or gifts) attached. Several students threatened to show up at our dinner after I told them everything we were going to cook and the butcher I bought the turkey from was more than happy to be of assistance in our preparation for the big day.

After weeks of planning, inviting, and coordinating, and a solid 12 hours of cooking the day before, Thanksgiving Saturday began with a 9 am trip to the butcher to retrieve the turkey. I watched, eyes bugged out, as he slung the naked 7.5-kilo bird onto his chest for the short trip from fridge to counter, where, at our request, he hacked off the remaining stump of the neck with one swift blow of the cleaver. And he put our dear pava (that’s right, it was a female) in a plastic bag, swiped my debit card, and sent us on our way with wishes for a happy día de acción de gracias.

And about nine hours later, after stuffing our bird and fitting her into the pan, washing and steaming three kilos of Swiss chard, making several kilos of mashed potatoes, improvising gravy, and reheating sweet potatoes, roasted carrots, red cabbage, and broccoli casserole, fourteen people sat around the table and were thankful.



4 Responses to “Giving thanks”

  1. 1 Tom Tuesday, 2 December, 2008 at 10:26 am

    MMMmmmm looks yummy! Now I wish I could be in Devon for Christmas.

  2. 2 Katie Tuesday, 2 December, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    It wasn’t bad at all, let me tell you, but nor is the food at Spanish Christmas…

  3. 3 Kaley Tuesday, 2 December, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    I studied abroad in Spain last semester (Spring 08) and I so badly want to do the program you are doing. Or something! I am poor but I want to go baaaaack. :(

    I’ll keep reading.

  4. 4 natalia Wednesday, 16 December, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Wow! Where’d you get that bird? I managed to order one, but it was much smaller. That looks amazing!

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