Oh, Thanksgiving. Despite the premise of the holiday (its flawed celebration and all), I can assure you that there is still joy to be drawn from it.
There’s the reprieve, the family, the friends and the food. For better or worse, all of these elements simmer together to bring about profound conversation and revelations.
More importantly, as an American, just because you aren’t in your home country doesn’t mean you’re barred from celebrating this holiday.
When Genna and I cooked up the idea to host a Thanksgiving dinner, we didn’t think it would be anymore difficult than it is at home. The turkey is always work. So is the stuffing (dressing, depending on your dialect) and the greens and the sides.
We wrote off collards, because obviously, we are in London. Not the American South. Nothing personal. But we bravely decided on a menu of turkey, ham, roasted vegetables, mac + cheese, mashed potatoes and various assorted desserts.
Potluck style, we delegated a few dishes. But making the cranberry sauce and blazing the brussel sprouts and finding our golden bird? Should be as easy as pumpkin pie.
Should have been.
We skipped over to Sainsbury’s to hunt down the spices, produce and meat on our hit list.
Some ingredients, like onions and garlic heads, were a cakewalk. We found the zucchini.
But they had run out of squash. There were no cranberries to be seen. There wasn’t any potato bread for the stuffing. Beyond that, the bread situation was dodgy as a whole.
We thought brussel sprouts were in short supply, but we eventually found them tucked behind beets. I found it strange, because I figured the Brits would be hopping on those brussel sprouts.
Still, we went back to the flat, unloaded our groceries and gave it another go.
At Waitrose, we decided to axe the butternut squash from the menu. But more than vegetable termination, we were keen on getting this ham and turkey.
So I bothered this tall, beardy, kind-looking black man about where I could find them. When I inquired about it, he just knew.
I could tell when he asked, “There isn’t a substitute, is there?” he already knew the answer.
He confirmed this when I overheard him explaining Thanksgiving to a co-worker (i.e. extolling the virtues of the humble turkey and pumpkin pie).
Waitrose didn’t have the big, iconic sort of ham we were looking for, either. They had little ham hocks. Gammon joints, they call it. We took it. At that point, we weren’t going to be too picky.
Just as we were wrapping up with the spices, the tall man came galloping our way. In his arms was an enormous, melty, condensation-kissed package.
When he walked away, he had decided to dig around in the back. And what did he find just in but a Christmas shipment of turkeys?
At that point, we became absolutely ecstatic. Here we were, searching far and wide for pretty straightforward ingredients, like bread and brussel sprouts. And this man bestowed upon us a beautiful, voluptuous turkey.
So far, we’ve war-gamed Thanksgiving meal prep.
Now, it’s just a matter of execution. If nothing else, my heart is all aglow with the prospect of my very own, very first Friendsgiving.