Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving: Africa

This was a Thanksgiving to remember. 

Since Katie from Nebraska has joined us here, we decided the 2 of us needed to make a real American Thanksgiving, Turkey and all.  We had seen some Turkeys hanging out around Aru so we decided to find one.  Lydia went out for some reconnaissance and came back saying the turkey would cost something like $30, which is highway robbery because that’s how much a goat costs.  So Katie and I returned the next day with Sister Gracianna hoping she could lower the price a bit.  Well, the man wasn’t home.  So bright and early Thanksgiving morning we tried again and did succeed in a slightly lower price.

I came home triumphantly after breakfast with a turkey in tow.  Here she is, one hour before her death:

And here we are together:

I had a great plan in my head for Mama Marie (a local woman who cleans, gardens, and sometimes cooks for us) to come and kill/clean/ready the turkey for us (i.e. make the turkey more like you find it at the store).   Sadly, Thanksgiving was the one day Mama Marie was sick and didn’t come.  So that left us all standing around our turkey, who was tied to a tree in front of our house, wondering what we were going to do with it.  Stefano thought he could kill it, but had never killed anything before and we didn’t think a turkey was a good place to start.  Finally we decided to go to the convent to ask for some help.  This was a good move.  Raymond, one of the men who does various odd jobs for the sisters came over, took the Turkey out back and slit its throat:

Then he cleaned it:

Then he emptied out its insides and gave it back to us almost as you would find a store-bought Turkey.

Here she is, one hour after her death:

With the Turkey death out of the way Katie and I were able to concentrate on cooking our feast.  After lunch we set to work.  I made an apple pie from a can I had imported from Denver and Katie made her dad’s famous stuffing.  Clara and Matteo helped to finish the Turkey and we stuffed her up nice and big and put her in the oven.  Our oven is usually a disaster to work with because it has 2 temperatures: off and really, really hot.  Everything burns in this oven and it is always frustrating to bake.  We have now discovered the one thing our oven is good for: Turkey! Here she is going into the oven:

While the turkey was roasting nicely in our super-hot oven, I made my family specialty Grandma Noodlies and Katie and I made some delicious mashed potatoes.  As the turkey came out of the oven to rest I took the drippings and attempted to make gravy from scratch for the first time in my life.  The taste was good, but the consistency was a bit off, I’ll have to try again next year.

As the turkey rested the Italians broke out the salami and Parmesan cheese for Happy Hour before dinner (although I did warn them not to eat too much because we had tons of food just around the corner). 

After the turkey’s last nap everything was ready and it was time to eat!  The Italians took control of the carving…well, they didn’t exactly carve the turkey but hacked it into 8 huge chunks.  It wasn’t a nicely presented platter of turkey slices, but it added a lot of character to our International Thanksgiving.

We all stuffed ourselves with tons of food and shortly after dinner found that we were all exhausted, like there was some kind of chemical in all that Turkey we ate to make us tired…

So we left the dishes for the morning and lounged around until it was time to stuff in a little bit of apple pie and drag our overstuffed bodies to bed.

This was my second International Thanksgiving in a row (3rd if you count Guam as International).  It was great fun to introduce Thanksgiving to Stefano, Clara, and Maria and Matteo enjoyed his first Thanksgiving with turkey.  I encouraged all of them to come to America some day to experience even more food and family. 

I hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving and I hope that you all appreciate turkeys that come all nicely wrapped up and ready to go into the oven!!!


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