Wow—A Traditional Thankgiving Dinner

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Wow—a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I am still in a food coma and can’t even face breakfast this morning. The last time I had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner was November 2010 (seven long years ago).

I divorced in 2011 and left the States in early 2012. No (American) Thanksgiving on the road. Any follower of this blog will know I have spent the last five years trekking Latin America: Cuba, Mexico, Central and South America.

Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday and is the time (like Christmas) to connect with family and friends. Many American expat communities around the world try to replicate these holidays abroad which can be a real gastronomical  challenge considering many of the typical menu items are not readily available in some countries. I’m thinking of ingredients like cranberries, pecans (for pie), pumpkins (for pie), stuffing and even turkeys sometimes. But American expats will often make the attempt even going so far as to ship in key holiday ingredients at great cost.

Joel and I have never really integrated into expat communities very well—we don’t play well with others. We tend to gravitate to those travellers who make a real effort to assimilate into their new cultures but shy away from those who (on the other hand) intentionally segregate themselves from their new countries and cultures. I mean what’s the point of living in a different country if you don’t fully embrace it? Granted we are constantly on the move and that makes the integration process difficult. But even our first two years in Yucatan, Mexico didn’t result in us joining the resident community.

So last night’s dinner, although not a family dinner, was mighty good. We (Shawn, Jaimee, Joel and I) ate a traditional four-course dinner at a local steak house here in north county. Shawn and Joel had prime rib and Jaimee and I had turkey. The dinner included an appetizer, salad, main course and dessert. Everything was cooked and presented to perfection and the meal lasted over 2½ hours (it reminded me of our extended meals in Mexico). And though it wasn’t served in someone’s home (the best way) we still got to celebrate the holiday as a family, albeit a small family.


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