Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy-ish Thanksgiving

I had been looking forward to this Thanksgiving since last Thanksgiving. As is so often the case, I built up this one night in my head so that it never could have lived up to my expectations. Which is not to say it wasn't a successful dinner - for the most part, it was. Let's start with the bad.

First I burned the pumpkin pie crust trying to get the filling to cook. I did everything I could - reduced the temperature a bit, covered just the crust's edges with foil - but the bottom and the sides still got burned and the pie just wasn't as good as the test run last week. Luckily by the time we got to the pie everyone was too stuffed to eat it. But let it be said it was FRESH! Also in the picture is a can of candied yams I happened to find at a grocery store here, which the yam eaters were happy about (we were never a sweet potato family so it's not a tradition of mine).

Second, the mashed potatoes tasted good but had the consistency of glue. I think it had to do with the sour cream substitution I used (since sour cream does not exist here) and then beating them with a hand mixer instead of good old fashioned mashing. Ironically, this was the only dish that did NOT have leftovers. They must have been good under gravy, which luckily did turn out well.

Third, I had originally planned on cooking a 10-11 pound turkey. Sol's boyfriend George took charge of the task of securing said turkey, and told me he reserved a 15.5 pounder. I only found out AFTER dinner that Sol and George kept the truth from me that the turkey was, in fact, nearly 19 pounds, but they decided not to tell me since I was already stressed out about it being too big. Somehow I managed not to give us all food poisoning since there was no helpful pop-out thermometer to tell me it was, in fact, done.

Everyone sung its praises and one American girl told me it was possibly the best she'd ever had, so despite not having American bacon to cover it with (which was still probably the most popular snack food I offered), real maple syrup to baste it with, or fresh sage to season it with, the turkey was a success. Here's the beast with the always-popular bacon cover:

Fourth, almost everyone was late. Ironically the Argentineans were more on time than the Americans. After 10 hours of cooking, two days of prep, and months of planning, I couldn't help feeling sort of disrespected by late arrivals. It's not like it was an early dinner party either, I told people to come at 8. But, I breathed through it, reminded myself that everyone had a good excuse and it wasn't meant as a personal offense against me, drank some wine, and kept basting the enormous turkey. I'd like to point out that the kitchen is miraculously clean for it being so close to dinner time in this self-portrait.

Ok, on to the good. It was a hot day but there was nearly no humidity so the apartment stayed cool and my 10 hours in the kitchen weren't insufferable. The blueberry sauce turned out really well, as did the green bean casserole and the stuffing. And, the gravy - always my biggest stressor! - was quite tasty. I made too much Waldorf salad but that too was delicious. Here is a shot of my meager effort to de-seed the grapes for the salad.

People were grateful to have been invited. The Americans were glad to have a place to celebrate and reveled in the authenticity of the traditional food, while the Argentineans were happy to experience a new holiday and get a delicious meal out of it at the same time.

Overall it was a fine Thanksgiving - no disasters like you see in the movies, nothing caught fire, nothing was inedible - but it lacked the magic of last year's. I appreciated my Mom telling me on the phone later (waaay later, 3 am my time) that she has prepared many a holiday meal that she would have rather thrown at her guests than served to them. The good news is, next year I will have no expectations whatsoever so it will probably be my best Thanksgiving ever!

For now I'm off to heat up the last of the green beans and stuffing, plus some turkey and blueberry sauce for good measure, before heading off to watch my neighborhood's "soccer" aka futbol team play in the local stadium. It seems like a sort of symbolic transition from American traditions to Argentinean ones.


AmberAnda said...

I've been waiting to read about your holiday feast! Even if it didn't exactly turn out as you envisioned, I'm proud of you for cooking all the food and hosting. As some one who didn't have set plans til the morning of Thanksgiving, and whose culinary contribution was half-heartedly helping with a green salad, I know how much I appreciated having gracious hosts who spearheaded the holiday. Enjoy the leftovers!

日月神教-任我行 said...