Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving is coming

I figure I better talk about something besides cycling or people will start to think I'm a very one dimensional person. I have plenty of other dimensions to talk about. Like the fact that this is the third Thanksgiving I'll miss at my brother's house. Or the fact that I have yet to come up with some kind of personal holiday tradition on my own. Oh well, there's always next year.

Thanksgiving is approaching quickly. I won't even be here. I'll be in Sweden and since we're staying with his dad chances are I won't be eating turkey, stuffing, smashed taters and gravy, cranberries, sweet potatoes, Parker House rolls or pumpkin pie on that day. No candy corn, pickles or jello salad either.

With my luck Thanksgiving will be the day my husband decides to take me up on my offer to try one of his father's favorite foods. It always appears in his fridge the day before we are scheduled to leave, in large quantities. Like he's been just waiting for me to leave so he can eat normally again. So I said, casually in other conversation so he might forget about it but he probably won't, it would be considerate of me to try blood pudding. That way his dad doesn't have to wait till I leave to enjoy his meals again. I have a feeling it will definitely make me thankful for other foods.

All our American friends in Florence are feverishly preparing for the holiday. They're combing the grocery stores and local markets for those "must have" items. Some of it's easy. Potatoes, corn, zuchinni....most any vegetable they can get here. But there are other things that commonly grace the Thanksgiving tables in the States that have to be approached differently here.

For instance, turkey is a common meat here. But no Italian would think of buying an entire turkey and cooking it. In fact, if you want a whole, uncut turkey you have to order it in advance from a small butcher shop. And endure the looks and the comments about (crazy) Americans.

Pumpkins are plenteous here, but pumpkin pie filling or solid pack pumpkin is only sold in some stores and like my experience with Cream of Mushroom soup, be prepared to pay through the nose for it. I think one friend paid 4-5 euro for a single can. I can't say that I love love love pumpkin pie enough to pay that much.

I have another friend who is currently scouring the area for fresh or frozen cranberries to make her own cranberry sauce. So far no luck. All my sources say the only cranberries they've been able to find are the canned ones. And we all agree that those are awful. Or maybe I should just say they're not everyone's cup of tea. My son loves the darn  things. Italy appears to be one of those countries that doesn't really grow cranberries or consume them.

I also haven't seen sweet potatoes here. Or marshmallows. Now I know that half of you are reading this and gagging at the thought and the other half are thinking "Oh yeah, just like mom used to make." It is entirely possible that they may be available in cans next to the pumpkin and cranberries. I've never taken the time to look. Actually, I've never seen these canned items in the stores myself. I've just seen them in other people's houses.

The bread will have to be Italian. Unless you buy the tiny sandwich loaves, some of which boldly state on the label good for 30 days! Who wants to buy bread that will still be fresh in 30 days? Even Wonder Bread doesn't throw that kind of boast around. So the bread will be salt-less Tuscan bread or focaccia. Unless they bake it themselves.

Once they have the food they'll have to worry about the guests. Because Thanksgiving isn't a holiday here. Anyone who could make it to their house will have to eat and run so they can get back to work. I imagine that most people, like one of my friends, has pushed the actual meal to Saturday so that her Italian family can come. Others will probably move Thanksgiving "dinner" to dinner time here, which is around 8-8:30pm. It's a scheduling nightmare, especially with children.

There are a few local restaurants that have a Thanksgiving dinner menu planned and a few others that offer take out food or baked goods. I have no idea how well attended those are. The first year I was here I was still in my "OMG I'm in Italy" fog of happiness and felt grateful to find a restaurant with pumpkin soup. Last year I was in Sweden and honestly can't remember what I had to eat.

I promise to report on what I actually have on Thanksgiving. Don't blame me if it's blood pudding. Thank my parents for teaching me good manners and consideration for others. And my husband for having a long memory.

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