Well, all cards on the deck, I did buy 2 cans of cranberry sauce and I didn’t make the bread that I used in the stuffing. But, other than that, I not only made my first Thanksgiving, but I made it all from scratch, and I introduced about 15 lucky friends to our American tradition.
Before I get started, I owe 25 years of thank yous to my mom, my aunties, and my grandma. I have always been grateful for them and their delicious foods that somehow always looked so effortlessly made… but my appreciation went to a whole new level after I undertook the whole ordeal on my own.
A couple days before I jumped on my bike and headed to the fancy grocery store in the more wealthy part of town to buy my turkey. I put that frozen turkey in my backpack and pedaled back home with my sunglasses on, tunes in my ears, and 80 degree sun shining away. It felt kind of odd. Definitely not like Thanksgiving. After unloading the turkey I went to La Vega, the big fruit and veggie market to buy everything else.
My friend Chelsea from Colorado came over on Friday and, over ice cold beers, helped me with some of the pre-cooking. She made the crusts and apple pie while I did the green bean and sweet potato casseroles. I couldn´t believe that alone took a good 4 hours.
Saturday morning I woke up and thought, “there’s really not that much to do, maybe I’ll even get a workout in!” Boy, was that naive haha. I did the pumpkin pie with the pumpkin I had cooked Friday, made the stuffing, the salads, and other side dishes. I waited to make the turkey until I got to my boyfriend’s house because my oven has no temperature (it operates with small to high levels of flame) and, while it served for everything else, I didn’t want to mess up the turkey and kill everyone from Salmonella on their first Thanksgiving.
In the end, everything was delicious and we had the full spread: turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and pumpkin/apple pie.
Making everything gave me an appreciation for the food, but, also, having it all come from fresh, whole foods was just as powerful. Although more work, it is very invigorating to know exactly what you are putting in your body.
This day, and every day, I am truly grateful for more things in my life than I have hairs on my head. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to fulfill my dream of living in another country, for traveling this world, for the extremely supportive family and friends I have back at home, for the second family that has been so gracious to me here, and so so much more.
On my Thanksgiving in Chile, I did a little toast, told everyone how it’s a day to be grateful for everything/everyone we have in our lives and had everyone go in a circle and say something they are grateful for. I shared that I was so grateful that my food turned out (whew, I had a few doubts in there), for my mom, aunties, and grandma for cooking all these years, and for the opportunity I had to be here in Santiago, living and experiencing a whole new chapter of my life with the people I had surrounding me.
I had a couple of newbie-cook freakouts but alls well that ends well. Thanksgiving in the middle of summer, up on the rooftop overlooking bustling Santiago, shared with a bunch of Thanksgiving first-timers was a fantastic and special experience.