Determined not to lose my Americanism, I always try to insist on celebrating the traditional American holidays. Earlier this year I spent the 4th of July in Zurich with A and we attended a celebratory BBQ at his coworkers house, burgers, hot dogs, chips, Apfelwein (a traditional German wine that comes from Apples, which is popular in Frankfurt,) oh yeah, and beer.
Since last year’s Paraguayan Thanksgiving was such a success, I knew I couldn’t possibly match it again this year, so I opted for something a little more low key, but equally patriotic. A home cooked dinner with my boyfriend, complete with all the special side dishes and acoutrements that are associated with Thanksgiving. The main problem, of course, was that I don’t eat Turkey and was not about to spend hours in front of a hot oven letting a giant bird that I wouldn’t even touch, much less take a bite of, roast.
I arrived to Zurich the day before the big day, and had packed a terrible cold and a fever along with me. It was just our luck that Aleks seemed to have gotten the same illness airmail before my arrival, and we realized that we were doomed to spend 5 days hopped up on Day Quil, Nose Spray, and with a box of tissues at each of our sides.
Still determined, though, Aleks headed off to work on Turkey Day (ironic, isn’t it?) and I made for the grocery store, with a long list in hand. When I got back to the apartment, around 1 or 2, I began cooking. The recipes of the day were:
- 1 Roasted Chicken
- Homemade Stuffing
- Brussel Sprouts Slaw with Homemade Honey Mustard and Homemade Maple Glazed Walnuts
- Sweet Potatoes Complete with Marshmallows
- Sweet Pear and Apple Tarts
I started with the stuffing. A had been letting a loaf of bread go stale for a couple of days, so I chopped up the rest of the bread and put it in the oven for a few minutes, (clearly a few minutes was way too long since half of my bread came
out charred and black!) but I managed to get the second batch right. And included all the mandatory mix-ins including garlic, onions, sage and a variety of herbs, and chicken stock. I have to admit, my first homemade stuffing came out awesome! Then it was onto the Brussels Sprouts Slaw, which I took the recipe from bonappetite.com and also came out great. Just had to figure out how to get the food processor working. And it was my first experience making salt and peppered maple glazed walnuts, which I will forever remember because it was so delicious.
The chicken was another feat, since from the moment I picked it up from the grocery store I couldn’t believe I’d actually have to touch it! When I read how to separate the skin from the body to put in spices I almost gagged, and kept secretly hoping A would come in from outside “just in time” to do the dirty work for me. But, alas, he didn’t and I gathered up enough courage to at least cover the outside of the chicken in the butter, sage, garlic, and onion “rub” that I had prepared. Then I popped it into the oven, grateful to be done with that part, at least.
The sweet potatoes should have been the easiest, but unfortunately I didn’t let them cook long enough (even though 1 hour surely seemed like enough!) so we actually ended up skipping them until our repeat of the dinner the next evening. And ate the melty marshmallows with the stuffing…delicious!
Overall the dinner was a big success. I was completely exhausted after about 6 hours of cooking, but was grateful to have pulled it off and have a great meal for which we could both be thankful. So even though there was no turkey or cranberry sauce or whatever other things Americans consider traditional Thanksgiving day foods, it was a lovely way to spend the holiday with someone I love…and perhaps to start a new tradition.