Saturday, November 24, 2012

When the First Time You Host Thanksgiving Alone Also Happens to be in a Country that Doesn't Know the Holiday (a few tips)

1.  You will look for a turkey at three stores. Finally, you will go to Mndeni Meats, the biggest meat store in town. When you ask the butcher about turkey he will laugh and say “Christmas isn’t for a while it’s FAR too early for Turkey” You’ll settle for two chickens instead. A bird is a bird.
Lesson one: when you cook alone you have to be the one that sticks your hand inside your chicken's body cavities
2. Making pureed pumpkin for your pie with only a wire strainer and a spatula, is not a particularly quick task. 

3.  You will be confused when inside you are making a hearty warm meal , while outside it is 80 degrees and sunny. You’ll sweat, but don’t worry a little salt makes food tastier

Stuffing in the making

4. When your recipe calls for “kitchen string” for poultry, what they REALLY mean is hair elastics. This is based on the fact that you have a huge supply of hair elastics while your supply of kitchen string is nonexistent.

5.    When a recipe calls for a rolling pin what they REALLY mean is a large water glass. (see explanation in number 4)
Pops! Look! First time for both of us!
will be doing dishes ALL day. Your hands will be cracking and dry. This is made an even more daunting task as you will not have a garbage disposal or dishwasher. After dinner there will of course be more dishes. But don’t worry your saint-of-a-flatmate and her boyfriend will literally try and push you out of the kitchen and insist you go to bed.
Woke up to a spotless kitchen. I could get used to this arrangement.
7.    Speaking of your flatmate, she will be almost more excited than you are to celebrate. On Wednesday before Thanksgiving you’ll come home from your run to a festively decorated house.

8. To be on the safe side you will make sure your guests have access to plenty of wine and you will also program the number of the local pizza place into your phone…but don’t worry somehow you will pull it off in the end!
9. Leftovers straight from the fridge will taste just as good in South Africa as they do in the US.
Apples for the apple crisp. You see Shantel's peeler back there---it's super high-tech and awesome

Shantel's Rolls

Shantel and Brad mashed the potatoes

Talitha's delicious salad
No fresh cranberries for cranberry sauce but managed to get some craisins incorporated

Shants held it down with the decor

From left to right: Abby's leg, Justin, Shantel, Brad, John, Talitha. 
Havin' trouble standing post meal?

So there you have it. Last night Thanksgiving came a few days late to South Africa. Dinner was for seven and I'm still not exactly sure how I pulled it off. Was definitely feeling a little nostalgic on Thursday and wished I could have spent Thanksgiving with my family (mostly because it would have meant I didn’t have to cook my own dinner, jokes) BUT I’m also glad I got to share a little American culture with new South African friends. After all, isn’t  Thanksgiving a celebration of the melding of cultures, the sharing of food and the gathering of new friends?


  1. Aw, Gracie. This is lovely, lovely, lovely. You did it! Looks fabulous.

  2. come a long way since #jelloincident2002