It was a Californian Thanksgiving we joked throughout the day, sunny and in the 70s.
We had decided to spread the Thanksgiving love by feasting with some friends and family.
Rather than host the event on Thanksgiving Thursday which (inconveniently) is not a holiday here, we opted for a Saturday dinner. It felt a little odd being out of sync with the actual holiday. The turkey was ordered on Thanksgiving day. The preparations began the day after Thanksgiving. And the feasting took place the day after that.
Our Sicilian version of the holiday had other oddities, too.
For starters, I am a somewhat of a vegetarian. It was quite odd to be the one buttering bird flesh, checking meat temperatures and lovingly basting the giant beast (26 lbs!) over the course of an entire day because I wanted to. My husband's disbelief echoed my own.
While I, the only American at this event, prepared the turkey, gravy and stuffing, most of the meal was actually prepared by Sicilians based on somewhat random recipe suggestions I threw together. We had artichoke/spinach dip, flatbread with butternut squash and carmelized leeks, mashed potatoes, arugala/squash/lentil/feta salad, honey glazed carrots, rolls with olives and hotdogs, pumpkin pie with homemade whip cream, chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles (for the kids) and even Sicilian donuts.
The meal lacked cranberry and yam dishes. I had sort of unconsciously eliminated them from the menu as hard (if not impossible) to find ingredients. But as we were sitting down to the meal, it was just plain odd to have Thanksgiving, even a Sicilian one, without these fundamental dishes. It dawned on me that I should have made an effort to find these ingredients or at least find some convincing alternatives.
And there was plenty that wasn't odd.
The pure fun of it all.
Making the effort to establish holiday traditions for my son.
Setting the table together and crafting funny little turkeys for the centerpieces.
Preparing games together to play with his friends.
Talking about what it means to be thankful.
Admiring (and then devouring) each other's creations.
Enjoying the meal gathered around a table with lovely people.
Laughter and love.
Planning ahead for next year's festivities (I think we have a tradition here!)
Other lessons learned:
Plan the menu a little bit earlier and get recommendations
Tell the butcher what size turkey I want before ordering (I do not want to have to battle with such a huge bird ever again)
Invest in a roasting pan
Invest in a gravy dish
Get a better stuffing recipe
Bring some cans of cranberries home with me
Do put the stuffing in the turkey while it rests, but take it out before carving the turkey
Consult with my chef brother-in-law before roasting the turkey, not after (he volunteered, hallelujah!)
And don't forget to light the fire pit after dinner (some marshmallows for the kids would be nice!)
Thanks to my Sicilian friends and family for making such a memorable holiday together.
And to my faraway family and friends I hope you all had a wonderful day.