I love Thanksgiving. It is by far my favorite Holiday. I love the meaning behind it, that once a year we gather in Thanks for what we have. I love that it is all about the food - no presents, no stress, just good food, family and friends enjoying the best of life.
This year we celebrated in Brussels. It was a true American thanksgiving, with all the fixings, but had a definitely new feel. For one we 'moved' Thanksgiving to the Saturday before, as thursday will be a normal working day here.
But most notably, in true Brussels-style, it was a trilingual Thanksgiving. While I was in the kitchen doing last minute work, the conversation floated in in bits and pieces of French, Dutch/Flemish and English. The dinner table moved between the three languages, with various people translating for those who didn't speak the language of the moment. Good food and wine were the common denominator, and thanks to some expert (and dedicated!) on the spot translators you would have never have known that there were language barriers at the table.
I was worried that Thanksgiving foods wouldn't 'translate' to the non-Americans in the bunch, but was I wrong. V's mom went wild for the stuffing. Everyone loved the chocolate pecan pie. The cranberries weren't identifiable to some, even with translation, but they were still enjoyed. And of course the turkey was the star of the show.
A lot of people have asked me how I got a turkey here. I special ordered a turkey from Jack O'Shea's, an Irish butcher in Brussels, and picked it up without problem. (Although a fair warning for my fellow Americans out there, a special ordered turkey comes with a special ordered price tag...). Because the turkeys are 'grown' for Christmas, it was a little on the small side but worked out great. I'm not sure a bigger turkey could have fit in our European sized oven anyway!
We were very lucky to have my Dad visiting and helping, so it really felt like home and Thanksgiving. And, to make it even easier, he was able to bring a few of those key thanksgiving ingredients that are not easy to find here in Brussels. Corn syrup (for the pecan pie, which is extraordinarily unhealthy but you only do thanksgiving once a year), dried cranberries (for the Brussels sprouts, chosen on purpose for their name!), poultry seasoning for the bird.
While a Thanksgiving abroad will never be exactly the same, this one felt pretty darn close. And it was such a pleasure to not only continue celebrating my traditions, particularly with my Dad there, but also to share them with people previously unfamiliar. A new tradition perhaps? We'll see!
Wishing everyone back home a very Happy Thanksgiving!
(Thanks Caroline for the photos!)