Friday, November 11, 2011

A Look at Thanksgivings Past: Slovenia

As Nicole and I have each been planning what to do for our respective Thanksgiving celebrations (that are way-too-rapidly approaching, I might add), we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the Thanksgivings we've hosted in the past.

The first time we ever had Thanksgiving on our own--and by that I mean without any parents to do the cooking or to celebrate with--was in 2006, when we were living together in Milan. As luck would have it, one of our best friends in the world was living at the time in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a short enough train ride from Milan, and as it was her first Thanksgiving away from home as well, we decided to head to Slovenia and celebrate all together, American-style.

The one thing we weren't sure of, but just (in typical us fashion) winged it and hoped for, was that we could find Thanksgiving supplies. Not just decorations--we had a ridiculous paper turkey sent to us from a friend back in America (thanks Liz bionda!), so we were good in that department--but small things like, oh, a turkey. Pumpkin pie supplies. Casserole dishes. That kind of stuff.

Ljubljana has an awesome outdoor market along the river in the center of town, with vendors selling a wide variety of food and other goodies, so of course that's where we headed. And miracle of miracles, we found a turkey--or rather, the only turkey, at a small almost-closed indoor stall, and a huge turkey at that. I think he was close to 17 pounds. (Thankfully, it wasn't just the three of us at Thanksgiving--Liz's American, Canadian, and Slovenian co-workers at her English teaching school joined us, making a 17 lb. turkey purchase almost logical.)

We woke up at 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, if I recall, to stuff, brine, and prepare the turkey--we were determined not to mess this guy up! We also somehow managed to find enough supplies to make two kinds of stuffing (one version being meat-less since I was a vegetarian at that time), our Gramma's broccoli casserole (that's a staple at any and all of our holidays), mashed and sweet potatoes, a vegetable side dish, and pumpkin pie from scratch. Besides the turkey, I think we were most proud of that. We actually bought a pumpkin, scraped out his inner goodness, cooked it, and turned it into a pie that surprised even us with its delicioiusness!

Rolling out our pumpkin pie dough with a wine bottle because hey, we can improvise.

What I remember most of that Thanksgiving was 1. being terrified of having either no food or awful food for our first solo Thanksgiving venture (we were on the phone with Liz's mom at least 15 times that day); 2. being determined to make each dish work in the face of absent ingredients (or, in the case of the mashed potatoes, absent containers--we settled for an empty cookie tin as a serving piece!); and 3. feeling so frickin proud when everything worked out and everyone stuffed themselves and enjoyed the dinner! It was nothing fancy, and certainly nothing gorgeous, but it was what Thanksgiving is all about: stuffing yourself with homemade food and local wine, being thankful for what you have no matter where in the world you are, and sitting around chatting with old and new friends. 

Our feast (complete with stellar decor and Christmas cookie tin o' potatoes).

The final verdict: YUM!

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