Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Two Thanksgivings in six kitchens

This year was the fourth time in the last five years that I've had Thanksgiving away from home, (2008 in Italy, 2010-12 in Spain) and I have to say they just keep getting better and better.
Turkey Day 2010
This year involved two different celebrations, in Málaga and Granada, and you guessed it, they came from six different kitchens.

Part one in Málaga with friends I just played a helping role, making the sweet potatoes at my place (kitchen 1), taking them to Cait's place to stick them in the oven where she was preparing the rest of the food (kitchen 2), and then taking everything to Edu's place where we did last minute reheating and made the gravy and mashed potatoes (kitchen 3).

This Thanksgiving dinner consisted of about 14 people, six nationalities, and only one person an actual Malagueño.

The reason I didn't play a bigger role in this Thanksgiving were the plans I had for the following weekend in Granada. I had decided long before that I wanted to make dinner for the novio's family, because after all, they're my family too now.

Let's talk about planning a Thanksgiving dinner, when you're not in the city in which you'll be cooking, and trying to get non-Americans to understand just how big an endeavor this would be. I was going to arrive in Granada late Friday night and begin cooking Saturday morning. There was definitely no time for a major shopping trip. Throughout the week I was making shopping lists, planning cooking schedules, while the novio was trying to understand why it took so much time and effort to plan one dinner!

First, I got the novio's sister in Granada to order a turkey from a butcher and arrange for it to be picked up the morning of the dinner. Then, I bought everything that doesn't need refridgeration here in Malaga and stuck it in what became the heaviest suitcase I've ever transported. Imagine the total weight of a whole pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cans of green beans, a few liters of chicken stock, nearly all my spices, suagr, brown sugar... you get the idea. We nearly broke the suitcase in the process.

Friday night we took a late bus to Granada and stayed in the novio's parents place for the night so I could get straight to work using their oven in the morning (kitchen 4). But even before that, when we arrived late that night I went straight to the kitchen to make the dough for the pie crust, and then stick it in the fridge overnight.

Saturday morning I started about 10am, planning on a Spanish dinner at about 9pm. I began baking the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin while I sent the novio to pick up the turkey. The problem with letting him loose in the city where he grew up is that he's going to run into a million people he knows, then he's going to go see his sister (where we would later eat), and then he would come back, having forgtten the turkey in his sister's apartment.

I didn't freak out. The turkey would need about 3.5 or 4 hours in the oven, and I was still doing okay on time. I continued chopping vegetables and began making the stuffing while we sent the novio's dad to get the turkey. We waited, and waited, and waited. We called him. No answer. We called all relatives around to see if he had stopped to visit someone. No one had seen him. Turkey and father were both missing. He eventually showed up, having taken his time idling around town, but now I knew dinner would most definitely be later than planned. But this is Spain, what was I thinking anyway?

The next problem came shortly after. I cleaned and seasoned the turkey, and put it in the oven. A bit of advice for anyone making a turkey in Spain, consult your oven size before choosing your turkey size. This giant just barely fit, touching both sides of the oven. I had planned on baking other dishes at the same time as the turkey, but this guy said "No! All this space is for me!"

Therefore, kitchen number 5 came into play. While I stayed to continue basting the turkey, I sent the novio to his grandma's house across town with fully prepared dishes of sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and biscuits to bake in her oven. I gave him complete lists with temperatures and baking times for each item.
Rolling out pie crust, a wine bottle my rolling pin
So I babysat the turkey in the oven, the novio ran all over Granada transporting food, came back to get me and the pumpkin pies which I'd also had time to make, and we ran off to his sister's apartment (kitchen 6) where 20 friends and family members were waiting and I quickly did all the reheating I could sans oven.

Yes, you read that correctly. I made dinner for 20 people, 22 including the novio and me. Quite different from any of my other Thanksgivings in Spain, everyone was Spanish except me! It was buffet style because there was no where near enough table spaces and chairs, but that didn't mean any less eating.

By the end of the night the turkey (seven kilos!) had been picked clean and the mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits, and gravy completely devoured. Left-overs only consisted of pumpkin pie (I made two because I love it so much!), sweet potatoes (again, I made a double batch), and stuffing.

All in all, it was agreed that Thanksgiving definitely needs to be exported to Spain!
Happy and full
Part of my Granada family and friends, already looking forward to next Thanksgiving


  1. Wow... this sounds like a fun challenge. I would definitely love to be there for Thanksgiving someday.

  2. wow! quite the adventure! it pays to remain flexible I guess huh? I've never fed that many at Thanksgiving so my hat's off to you!!