Mom’s home (or store-bought) cooking has never seemed as far away as it does during your first Thanksgiving away from the states. But don’t worry, fellow recently relocated US babies, we can still show gratitude through food, even when there’s no classic family arguments to make us eat faster and with more fervor. It just takes some creativity, good company and a lot of carbohydrates.
Here are just a few ways to celebrate the big November feast in our new, if not permanent, home.
Fulbright Thanksgiving dinner
This year, as in years past, the Fulbright commission offered a Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and the like. It’s already taken place, but for future reference, it’s not a bad option if you want some good, and new, company, as well as a hearty meal. It did sell out several days in advance though, so unless you can think ahead, you’re out of luck.
If you’re like me, resistant to the stringent chokehold of deadlines (forgetfulness sounds heroic that way, right?), you might end up preparing your own metaphorical turkey. Don’t worry though – there are ways to give thanks, and remember fatal diseases and cultural genocide, even in Iceland, away from family, old friends and the land we can miss and criticise all at once.
(Side note: If you don’t know the repercussions of the famed Thanksgiving meeting of Europeans and Native Americans, they’re worth reading about. The implications of American identity are also worth considering, I think.)
Big potluck, many friends
A potluck, for example, is a solid way to bring different culinary traditions into the celebration. Last year, a group of international friends and I held a potluck the day after US Thanksgiving. No one wanted to spring for a turkey, and I had long given up hope of locating (or affording) a tofurkey, so it was different from the Thanksgivings I’m used to. Still, we had a ton of amazing food, everything from French crépes to lasagna to Puerto Rican pastelón.
It was no less Thanksgiving-y, and arguably even more special given the different surroundings, new friends and delicious mishmash of dishes that comes with a wholesome potluck. Plus, everyone was really excited to eat and cook together. We shoveled food into our mouths, didn’t speak for twenty minutes and then lay on the ground lamenting our bursting stomachs. We even tried to watch American football. It was a perfect holiday.
Don’t plan, eat and be merry
Even if you have nothing planned, there’s no need to fret. Now is the time to fly the coop (or wherever turkeys live) and be creative with what you prepare, how you prepare it and who you prepare it with. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy dinner; it can be an at-home rendition of York’s famous hotdog soup, a Domino’s pizza delivered to your room, or a gorgeous falafel eaten on a stool in Mandi. They’ll all taste great as long as you think good thoughts while you eat them (and follow York’s recipe exactly).
And you can invite anyone you even sort of like. If you don’t like anyone, that’s okay too. Even without a set agenda, the possibilities are still as plentiful as the US corn crop. You can pop into a restaurant, stop by Bónus and Kostur or even use the weird, seemingly incongruous ingredients in the cabinet to create Your Next Genius Culinary Invention.
Fly free this Thanksgiving, wild turkeys. And don’t forget to tell your Mom her cooking isn’t THAT bad.