Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Italian Style

Thursday Monica had to work, so she left me to my own devices to explore Faenza. I ended up oversleeping, missing the town market AND the ceramic museum but the extra sleep was totally worth it. I did some laundry, had a late lunch and bummed around town.

Later that evening, I joined Monica out at the farm where she works. Several of her friends and co-workers were gathered there, cooking a 4 kilo stuffed turkey and the Thanksgiving works. In between last minute things, Monica made three squash "pumpkin" pies. We roasted sweet potatoes, someone brought homemade stuffing and Michele mashed potatoes. For my part, I snapped beans and drank wine :)

By the time the turkey was done, fifteen people had arrived. We watched Jonathan (the head chef) carve the boneless turkey and place the thick steamy slabs on a plastic platter Monica pulled from somewhere. The best part was a homemade green bean-mushroom-and-fried onion concotion Jonathan pulled from the Food Network website. No Campbells soup here! It was hands-down terrific.

As we organized ourselves buffet style, a few of the un-initiated Italians were unsure of all the food. Monica immediately gave a rundown of the basics, instructing everyone to pile their plates high. Apparently, mixing the savory items with the sweet squash and the roast sweet potatos caused the most consternation. "Plating" is a concept not yet inculcated in American households, so it was interesting to watch the Italians arrange small portions on several plates and make trips back and forth to the buffet. I'm happy to say I piled my plate high and only left the turkey skin as a remnant of my gnoshing.

During the normal course of these international holiday celebrations, talk inevitably floats towards traditions. Thinking it over, I've celebrated Thanksgiving in Switzerland, Singapore, Washington DC and now, Italy. Each time, I bring up my family tradition of going around the table saying what we're thankful for according to letters of the alphabet. In DC, since I hosted, I made everyone at the table do it. I was going to keep quiet about it, but Monica has had thanksgiving with me before and insisted that we do it.

It's a good exercise in that it reminds us what we have in our lives (my Love, was one of them; Parents were another) and also elicits laughs for the more difficult letters (Questra turque (THIS turkey, for "q"). Although hokey, it's nice to see some traditions carry over. I think my mom would be proud.

I snuck away after dinner to skype my family, but someone kindly delivered a delicious piece of squash pumpking pie (plus homemade whip cream!). More wine. Caffe's all around. Jokes. Things devolved into only Italian later on the evening, but for the most part I was able to follow the conversation. Here was a place for people to gather, laugh, care for one another and eat mightily.

Now that's home, isn't it?

1 comment:

yvonneemily said...

brings back such fond memories of my year in Italy. Beautiful post.