With another Thanksgiving upon me, I told Joseba I would like to put together a little Thanksgiving dinner for our first one together. Nothing extravegant like Grammy does but some of the Turkey Day goodies - turkey of course, potatoes and gravy, veggies, a pie of some sort and of course the all important wishbone (that my Grammy sent me last year after I missed the holiday yet again).
Seeing as you can't buy a WHOLE turkey here (well that's a lie, you CAN but you have to order it one month in advance from your butcher - no joke), we decided to just get some turkey breasts to get our gobble on. Potatoes and gravy (packets from home) were a shoe in and veggies are available all over, so that was no problem either. The big decision was what to bake...and in the end I decided a carrot cake would be fitting. Joseba isn't one for super sweet apple pies and we can't buy pumpkin pie mix here, so I have always love carrot cake and have never tried to make it so I thought I'd make our first Thanksgiving memorable. In the end, my first 'Acción de Gracias' as it is called here, was more special than I could have imagined, because of the fact that it truly was an 'Acción de Gracias' in Spanish and all.
Every Tuesday we have a dinner at my mother-in-laws to get the family together. She always makes delicious food and we chat away and catch up on the week. As is customary, Joseba came and picked me up from the train station and we drove to her house. On the way he asked a few questions about what last minute things he needed to buy at the store for Thursday's festivites as well as how to make gravy - could he use a fork? I, having always made the Thanksgiving gravy with a whisk, told him that it was forbidden to make it with some piece of silverware. He kept prodding about the fork business and so finally I told him I GUESS it was possible but that for years I have done it one way and that's how I planned to make it at home. We walked in his mother's house and to the kitchen where pots were bubbling and the table was set. Because she always has a million things cooking (she really spoils us on Tuesdays) I didn't think twice about what was on the menu for the evening, until Joseba said 'Happy Thanksgiving'. At that point, I got a bit of a confused look on my face to which Joseba said 'I didn't bring the whisk, so I hope you can learn to make gravy with a fork' and I started to laugh and surprise surprise cry. Between tears I managed the sentence 'como siempre' ('like always' in Spanish) and everyone started laughing. I cried at Christmas last year, I cried at the wedding...to sum it up, I'm a soft-hearted girl.
So we sat down and pour glasses of wine to toast to Thanksgiving and I told them all how thankful I was for them and for making me feel at home celebrating my holiday. The cups clinked and then the eating business got underway. First was a delicious tortellini salad topped with ham, next some cous cous with plums, cheese and tomoatoes. I would like note that there was even some cheeddar cheese - my fave! It's hard to come by here, but there it was in all it's glory which let me explain my obsession for Tillamook cheese to everyone. The potatoes and gravy were accompanied by a Joseba-version of turkey dinner - a 9x13 inch Pyrex filled with veggies and turkey cooked in white wine. Stuffed to the brim after all this food, no one could even think about dessert but I explained that that's how we knew it was close to a real Thanksgiving - you are always super full but always manage to squeeze some dessert in. While we had an American dinner we had a tasty Basque dessert - a traditional one at that - roscone de reyes. A donut-shaped pastry, it might remind you of a fruit-cake because it is filled with figs, quinces, cherries or other dried fruit. These particular ones were mini and had been sliced in half and filled with custard and whipped cream and boy were they delectable. We will have them again at Christmas...looking forward to it already.
At a table lacking a big bird, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin pie, sweet potates and gravy made by turkey fat, I can honestly say it was one of the most memorable Thanksgivings I think I will ever have. To be surrounded by such loving people who were concerned with making me feel at home here and close to home at the same time was very special, hence the crying. Be it Basque family or American family and friends, I am SO thankful for all of the amazing people in my life. And as you all sit down to a Thursday 2pm dinner followed by football, remember I was thinking about you on my Tuesdsay 9pm alternative Thanksgiving dinner - more grateful than ever.