Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey in Turkey III, the facts and figures

I hosted Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday for the third time in three years, something that has quickly become my favorite tradition in Turkey. As I've explained to the many non-Americans I've shared the occasion with, Thanksgiving is the best American holiday because there's no religion and no gift-buying involved, just eating and drinking with people you (hopefully) like.

Once I cooked a turkey successfully the first year, I decided not to really mess with that, but when October rolls around, I always start looking for new side-dish recipes to add to the ones worth cooking again. This year's menu included:

And for dessert (not made by me), a quince tart and Iranian halva.

On the guest list:
  • 5 Americans
  • 3 Brits
  • 2 Iranians
  • 2 Germans
  • 1 Dane
  • 1 French
  • 1 Turk
The ingredients in the meal were a little melting pot of their own, including:
  • American cranberries and Danish sausage from Denmark
  • Danish blue cheese from Lebanon (I decided to hold onto the French Roquefort from Djibouti for another occasion)
  • rosewater brought straight from Iran that morning
  • American maple syrup acquired in Portugal
  • sea salt, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and various other things transported from America
  • and, of course,
  • a turkey from Turkey
Since so many of the guests were celebrating their first-ever Thanksgiving, I decided to make a little speech explaining the meaning of the holiday, in the warm fuzzy way we learned in elementary school before we knew anything about colonialism or small pox. As I went through the story, it started to feel strangely appropriate, speaking as I was to a group of people who have settled in a land that was not our own, relying on each other to help us get through the hard metaphorical winters -- the bureaucracy, the strangeness, the language barrier, the loneliness -- and harvest something valuable from our sometimes faltering labors. Şükran günümüz kutlu olsun! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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