Ah Thanksgiving, a United States holiday dedicated to purely stuffing your face with food all day long. Sure, there might be the historical aspect of the Pilgrims, also known as English Puritans, and the Native Americans sharing the Pilgrims’ first successful harvest in 1621 in what would later be Massachusetts, but let’s face it what people actual look forward to is spending the day with family and friends devouring food like there is no tomorrow.
The overall sentiment of Thanksgiving Day in the US is to focus on what you are thankful for in your life. You are supposed to celebrate this thankfulness with a lovingly prepared meal and quality time with your family and friends. However, how is one suppose to celebrate this massive holiday when they are thousands of miles away in a completely different country?
Living in another country, especially one that doesn’t share the same traditions, can be challenging. For me being so far from my Californian family and friends makes the holidays, in particular, one of the most difficult times of the year.
So when my English husband and part of his family said they were willing to try my cooking, which is a huge gesture because my cooking in the past has failed me, and celebrate Thanksgiving in England with me, I jumped at the opportunity to share this American holiday with my English family!
What was on the Thanksgiving menu?
As the unofficial American Thanksgiving food ambassador to my husband’s family, I had to make their first time experiencing Thanksgiving cuisine perfect, well maybe not perfect, but at least decent.
My mission was to create several classic Thanksgiving dishes that I knew my small oven and limited cooking experience could probably handle.
The main course was a lemon and garlic slow cooked chicken. Not the traditional turkey since I didn’t want to burn down our flat even trying, but this dish was actually prepared by my helpful husband at 10:30 in the morning, which made it one less thing for me to worry about.
First for the sides there was candied yams, a sweet dish filled with sweet potatoes or yams (I honestly don’t know the difference, but I am sure professional cooks know), topped with loads of butter, brown sugar, and the best bit, which might make some of you cringe, marshmallows straight on the top. Sounds weird, but it works so well to make a sweet and beautiful dish.
Next we made green bean casserole. A savoury mixture of green beans, mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, some soy sauce, salt and pepper, and crispy fried onions.
Then I cooked ‘American’ stuffing, which mixes diced slices of bread, celery, onion, sage, and thyme all doused in melted butter.
And finally, the desserts. I made the traditional pies, pumpkin and apple pies with tons of spices.
Americans love spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc; hence the infamous pumpkin spice is almost in every product this time of year. It makes it feel more like the holidays.
Top tips for an American dinner: Tons of carbs and tons of butter. Two things that definitely ensure the tastiest unhealthy Thanksgiving dinner, and yes, that is what you want.
Thanksgiving on a Saturday
The fourth Thursday of November is when Thanksgiving tends to be celebrated. Unfortunately, due to people’s jobs and schools we had to do the meal a on the Saturday before, which was probably better since I couldn’t imagine cooking and baking after a long day at work.
The day started with all of us going out for a light lunch and a bit of shopping. Along the way, I found a turkey hat that I immediately fell in love with and brought it home with me to join in on the festivities. I figured because we weren’t cooking turkey there had to be one turkey at the meal even if that turkey was me.
As I started the prepping, I asked if they didn’t mind if we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a tradition in my house where I would wake up early in the morning and watch it alone while my family sarcastically say, “Oh great. This is on.” And do something else. To me it was the thing that started the holidays. It made me feel all childlike and excited!
My husband and his family watched for the first time the magicalness of the parade with its fun lip singing pop stars, big balloons, and shameless advertisement plugs, you know good ol’ American television.
I tried to watch every once in a while as I prepped. It made me think of home and I had to step away for a bit and quickly dry my eyes. An overwhelming amount of emotion filled me up as I reminisced of past holidays.
After trying so hard not to burn any dishes and a couple forgetful steps, the food was done and I presented the dishes for them to try.
I was so nervous for them to like it that I felt was on a cooking competition show watching all the professional chefs judge my dish. What if I failed as the Thanksgiving food ambassador and they never want to do a Thanksgiving again?
They all tucked in and the most magical thing happened. They actually enjoyed my food! Soon we finished the last morsel of food and after did the most traditional thing you can do in an American Thanksgiving meal sit on the sofa and almost fall asleep.
What I am Thankful For
So in the tradition of Thanksgiving, I would like to share what I am thankful for. Hold on folks, it is about to get sappy.
I am thankful for my mom, dad, my little sister, all my relatives, and close amazing friends from California who I think about constantly and hope to see as soon as save up enough money. I am thankful for being able to move to England where I met an incredible amount of new friends and my wonderful supportive husband and his family.
Despite the homesickness, I was also so happy that I got to share a part of my culture with part of my English family. That they were willing to share this experience with me and try new foods and be pleasantly surprised by how good it was, I mean to be fair I was also pleasantly surprised.