Earlier I wrote about the First Thanksgiving celebrated in America, and how much Bob and I were looking forward to celebrating our own “First Thanksgiving” in the role of host and hostess.
I’m pleased to report it was quite a success!
Bob and I spent all day with preparations. We had done the grocery shopping the day before, picking up two 3-kilo Brazilian turkeys from Woolworth’s, and all the other fixings we would need. Pumpkin pie mix and cranberries can’t be purchased here, so we had made sure a friend coming in from the US brought these with him!
The best part about Thanksgiving shopping was choosing the wine. South Africa has some fantastic vinyards, but we hadn’t done much tasting yet. So we stopped in at the Wine Seller in Melville. This place is incredible. Not only does the owner carefully select the bottles sold, but you can also taste everything in the store. Half an hour later we left with four bottles of wine, and in a distinctly lighter mood.
On the day of the celebration, we spent all day cooking. At home, Thanksgiving Dinner is traditionally served in the afternoon. But since we had scheduled our dinner for the evening, we were able to undertake the elaborate preparations much more leisurely.
The first challenge was space. The house we’re living in has no dining room, and the kitchen table can only seat four. The porch and garden are nice, but not roomy enough to serve a large meal. So we did the only logical thing. We chose the largest bedroom, and traded out the bed for a long table. A potpourri of chairs completed the set up.
Our menu included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked carrots, sesame corn, and cranberry sauce. For dessert, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and freshly whipped cream.
Neither of our families typically makes stuffing and cranberry sauce from scratch. Since the boxed and canned versions aren’t sold here, however, we had no choice. Bob and I were pleasantly surprised to find that the stuffing was incredibly easy, and that real cranberry sauce is incredibly beautiful.
In all fairness, I should point out that Bob did more than half of the cooking. And most generously, he agreed to do everything that involved touching the uncooked animal.
The food turned out great, and the company was lovely as well. We celebrated dinner with the family Ran and Anriette (the couple we went camping with) fellow Fulbright Scholar (and fellow Kansan) Zachary Yorke, and friends Jackie and Itumeleng. Unfortunately many other friends we would have liked to invite couldn’t be squeezed into the small number of seats. But I think this success may inspire us to host other dinner parties.
If you don’t recognize the poster on the wall in the picture above, it is a news headline which reads “Voters Reject Bush, Iraq War.” We do indeed have much to be thankful for.