Monday, November 8, 2010

As American as Apple Pie

I have accomplished my project for the week: Mission Belgian Thanksgiving complete! While I am deeply indebted to Mom for sending me oodles of recipes and instructions (Merci!), I am quite pleased with myself for making a Thanksgiving dinner all by myself; it makes me feel rather grown-up!
After poring over Mom’s recipes I went trundling off to the store with my trusty backpack to find turkey and lard and other strange items (I asked about an entire turkey and the store clerks looked at me like I was nuts. Those only appear here around Christmas).  Turkey is not very popular here (except at Christmas. I guess a whole turkey has become a tradition); there are large sections of duck, lamb, pork, rabbit, and chicken, with even some pheasant thrown in, but only a smidgen of turkey. Luckily I found some nice turkey thighs that served quite well. Saturday I made real American apple pies without catastrophe, and Sunday morning I made stuffing, baked the turkey thighs, mashed the potatoes, dug out the cranberry sauce, set out the olives, cooked the veggies, and whipped out the gravy. All without catastrophe. Marianne remarked that I seemed rather serious and wasn’t singing like I tend to in the kitchen---I was too busy trying to think of everything I might have forgotten and what was in the oven and what could possibly burn, boil over, or get cold!
Once Pépé came I started breathing more easily, and we had a nice chat while he helped me finish. Cécile, Gilles, Jean, Jean-Pierre, and of course Marianne, Julia, and myself were also present. I took pictures of everybody and made them all say something they were thankful for before the feast. Everyone took my little traditions in stride and we had a lovely festive feast, complete with champagne and apple pie and ice cream for dessert. We all ate a little too well and got sleepy in the true Thanksgiving spirit, and of course there were the mandatory Thanksgiving leftovers. Success.
Today I shared some of my precious American peanut butter with my class (I had told them that it is different than the stuff here; less sugary). The brave Belgians curiously sampled some with little plastic spoons and I watched their faces to see what they thought.  There were quite a few delighted raised eyebrows, some quizzical frowns, and only a few horrified grimaces. My health teacher tried it and really liked it too. Most of them were really surprised how salty it was. So now they have been properly introduced to the wonders of American cuisine.
 Also: Deedee, I am wearing the magnificent fingerless gloves you made! My fingers are wonderfully toasty and I can type at the same time! What's more, the colors match my favorite coat. Thank you very very much! 

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