Thanksgiving in Italy

As most of us know (and for the foreigners who do not), the United States celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. Typically, it is a time when people travel all over the country to be with their friends, their family, and their loved ones that they haven’t seen in a while simply to partake in the traditions of cooking, eating, and being together. This year was a bit different for me since I am in Italy, and Thanksgiving is a holiday that is unique to the United States. Here in Urbino, there are only a handful other Americans; most of the Erasmus students are from European countries. There were a few of us however who still wanted to do something for Thanksgiving. Since I absolutely love cooking, I went a little overboard, but it was Thanksgiving; you’re supposed to go overboard! The one American girl, who is also from my home state of Pennsylvania, was going to be gone all day, so she would not be able to cook, but still wanted to join in for dinner so she brought some wine instead. The one American guy, who goes to my school in the states, decided to make a desert; he made fried apples with cinnamon and sugar, which was surprisingly good. We lack an oven so certain things were a bit difficult, but we managed. I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things that I’d be needing for the dinner, such as the turkey. They did not have a whole turkey, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I knew they weren’t going to have them. Instead, they had some giant turkey breasts. I picked up one giant turkey breast which was also overpriced, but I just did not care because of the fact that it was Thanksgiving. Earlier on in the day I had started to cook. I made some roasted red peppers with olive oil and garlic on the stovetop, and I then put them in the fridge because, I’m not sure about elsewhere, but in United States, roasted red peppers are typically served cold. When I came back from the store, I decided to get the turkey going right away, even though we were not going to be eating for another couple of hours. Since we lack an oven, I decided to put the turkey breast in a pot with onions, spices, and a broth, and to then slow cook it with the lid on, so that it would be nice and juicy. Along with the turkey and roasted red peppers, I decided to get some carrots and corn going as well. I started boiling the carrots first so they would soften up and then added the corn with a bit of salt, pepper and a little bit of butter. After putting that aside, we decided that we should make some stuffing. So, my friend who is from England started the stuffing, which was then also cooked on one of the only two burners that we have on the stove. Bread, spices, onion and garlic, zucchini, and egg were thrown into this stuffing, and being someone who doesn’t normally like stuffing, I’d have to say that this one was exceptional. When the stuffing was finished, we started boiling water in order to make mashed potatoes. After throwing in some garlic, butter, and a splash of milk, I hand mashed the potatoes, and Thanksgiving dinner was just about complete.  The English girl then made some gravy from the broth that the turkey had been cooking in for the past few hours, and we were ready! Aside from the three Americans, myself included, we had people joining us from England, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, Australia, and France; we called them our adopted-Americans for the night. For them, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I kept inviting them. I was very proud of myself when everyone kept complementing me on my dishes and especially on the turkey; the other girl from Pennsylvania who is a vegetarian had some turkey for the sake of tradition and then helped herself to seconds of the turkey because she liked it so much! We ate and drank wine, went around the table and shared stories (mostly about American history and customs and the like) and what we were thankful for, and of course we got into some discussions about Native Americans. Personally, I always feel a bit guilty celebrating Thanksgiving since I do come from some Cherokee background, but I mainly do it the traditions, the food, and just being together with everyone. We then had the fried cinnamon and sugar apples that had been made, and a giant block of Italian chocolate that the Australian girl had brought. All in all, I’d say that Thanksgiving in Italy was a success. We were together, we had a grand time, and we ate a lot of food. I found it interesting that the first time I hosted Thanksgiving, I was out of the country. Who would have that would ever happen?

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