Holidays seem to be the hardest time to spend away from family and friends, so in order not to have a complete meltdown over Thanksgiving, I decided to organize (along with two other American girls) the biggest Thanksgiving dinner that Spain has ever seen. In October I was envisioning mashed potatoes, hashbrown casseroles, corn pudding, apple crisp, pumpkin pie...I think you get the point, yes? However, I quickly realized that many common ingredients in the US do not exist here. But not to worry(!) there is a store in Madrid called "The American Store" - yes, that is its name. There, you can buy all kinds of American products that cannot be found in the rest of Spain, Hallelujah! Thanksgiving is Saved! Except, not. Basically the only thing the American Store could provide us was canned pumpkin.
However, after some careful planning with my mom, we were able to figure out what I could make by hand/find a substitute for, and what needed to be shipped over. When the package arrived a couple of weeks later (just in time for Thanksgiving!) I felt like a kid on Christmas. I have never been so excited to see two pounds of Velveeta or a bag of pecans in my life! Not to mention the plastic pumpkin, festive leaf napkins, and turkey place cards for decorating the Thanksgiving table. Shout out to my mom! Love you Linda!
With three days until Thanksgiving, I had a lot of work ahead of me...but I was excited!! On Tuesday night I made "The Log of Knowledge" - a delicious appetizer that gets its name from the sustenance it provided one year while my sister and I were battling it out for the title of 'Trivial Pursuit Champion of the World'. I spent Wednesday trying to recreate hashbrowns for the hashbrown casserole. What a pain in the ass...as they do not have frozen hashbrowns, I had to peel the potatoes and shred them with a cheese grater. Weird. Then, I had to boil these little shredded cheese-sized pieces of potato. Hard. Then, I had to lay the little boiled potato shreds on a pan to freeze them. Madre mia! What a process. I also prepped anything and everything I could that night as I had to work on Thanksgiving. Finally, on Thursday, Melissa and I put the finishing touches on everything and packed up our friends car to transport all the food over to Ruth's house where we were having our Thanksgiving dinner.
I think it is safe to say the three of us were a bit nervous cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 15 people. I have never cooked more than two things at a time, so a meal with 14 things was somewhat daunting. However, things went really smoothly! Besides spilling half of the hashbrown casserole onto the oven door (I was laughing so hard I could barely clean it up) it was a relatively hitch-free meal. On top of that, it was very rewarding to please our American guests with dishes that reminded them of home AND to introduce our Spanish guests to some authentic American food (they were probably thinking, THIS is why Americans are so fat). Overall, Thanksgiving was quite a success! Our menu included:
Appetizers: The Knowledge Log (a curry chicken salad dip) & Queso Dip...went together surprisingly well
Main Course: Turkey & Chicken, 2 Kinds of Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Hash Brown Casserole, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts (I was pleasantly surprised by these...don't know how they caught such a bad rep), Corn Pudding & Yams
Dessert: Apple Crisp & Vanilla Ice Cream, Pumpkin Pie & Tiramisu
And of course, it wouldn't be a true Thanksgiving without going around the table and each person saying what he/she is thankful for. This was my favorite part of the night. A few of my American friends said that they were here last year and spent Thanksgiving alone and that it was quite depressing. However, this year we were all "alone" together. It may not have been the most traditional Thanksgiving dinner (one of our friends was drinking a 40 at the table) but it was certainly one that I will not forget.