When you are overseas for the Holidays it could leave you feeling a little blue, knowing that you are not going to be apart of the traditions that you have been apart of for so many years. Not to mention the feelings you encounter becuase you are away from your family. One thing that Trey and I discovered while being away is how thankful and fortunate we are to have such supportive, loving, and genuine families to return home to once our adventures are over.
Our Expat family has really helped us through this Holiday season with a good ol' fashioned Thanksgiving celebration. Tradition is what you make it, and when you are surround by people you care for, and come together with those that make you happy you are bound for success! Trey and I feel so blessed to have met such wonderful people and had the opportunity to share this day with new friends!
It all began one sunny afternoon in July when we were discussing with our friend the ever so popular topic of food. We were discussing all of our favorites when someone mention sweet potato cassarole. Our Aussie friend Kiara, look at us very curiously and said, "What is sweet potato cassorole?" Much to the Americans dismay, we all began talking over eachother eagerly trying to explain this delectable dish of sweet potatoes mashed with sweet crispy marshmellow toping. Kiara with big eyes and a grin exlaimed, "You had me at sweet potatoes and marshmellows!" We also explained it was something that was typically served on Thanksgiving. "Awe Thanksgiving my favorite Holiday of the season!" Becky said, with a longing in her voice. Kathryn, a friend of ours from the UK, replied, "Well Kiara and I had never been to a Thanksgiving before, so why dont we have a proper Thanksgiving here in Spain this year." Kathryn, a fellow foodie enthusist, although you wouldn't be able to tell from the looks of her, likes food just as much as Trey and I and is always ready to try new foods. All of the Americans loved this idea and began talking about what favorite recipes and family traditions they wanted to share, leaving the non Americans smiling and nodding in approval of what they were going to sample on this amazing American Holiday! Thus began the Expat Framily Thanksgiving!
Since the conversation started in July we had plenty of time to prepare. We weren't quite sure how or where we were going to host this grand event, but we knew it would work out. After Kathryn and Becky moved into there spacious flat in September it was settle it would be at their place. Becky made a group chat inviting all of us to the event at the end of October. Which I can totally respect her waiting not to prematurely prepare for this event. I mean it would be like putting your Christmas Tree up before Thanksgiving (oops we might have done that this year, but that is another blog with a great explaination).
Trey and I finally decided and commited to bringing the Turkey, Granddaddy's famous Mac and Cheese, Gibblet Gravy, Vegitarian Gravy, and Chelsea's pumpkin spiced bread. Little did we know the adventure we would encounter in finding the perfect bird for our Spanish Thanksgiving Feast.
When we agreed to preparing the turkey Trey and I thought it would be super easy right...wrong! Neither one of us had ever done a turkey before let alone a turkey from Spain. So I set out a week before to ensure we could have a fresh bird. I went to the local butcher and in my best Spanish possible asked for a turkey large enough to feed 4 people (mind you we had two vegitarians at our feast so we did not need a giant turkey). They told me it would be no problem, and to come pick it up the Wednesday before our feast. We also had to have our feast on a Sat. becuase of course it was not a Holiday for the Spanish so many of us still had to work. I recieved a call later that evening confirming I wanted a Pavito for pick up on Wed. and the butcher told me the price per kilo. "Well that was easy," I said out loud and so I thought.
I knew I had to work that Wed. afternoon, so I asked Trey if he could pick up the turkey. Of course he was happy to help, but for some reason when he walked in to tell the butcher he was there to pick up the turkey under my name, the butcher took one look at Trey and said, "I think you need a bigger turkey come back on Friday and I will have your turkey. " I don't know if he thought Trey needed to put on some extra weight or he took one look at Trey and thought those Americans mean business I will show them what a REAL turkey is, becuase we ended up with 7.7 kilo tukey aka 18 lb turkey! Trey said okay, and called me right away to tell me about his "upgrade". I laughed and said "Well we will have plenty of left overs then!"
When I went to pick up the turkey Firday afternoon the butcher handed me, with two arms, Thomas our Turkey, and said, "Tu bebe!" He wasn't kidding either Thomas was a chunker! I took him home and began to wonder how I was going to fit him the the refridgerator. I put him in the pan I had bought for the occasion and realized the pan was too small. I took out two shelves in our refridgerator and put Thomas in a his resting place for the evening. Trey and I both went back to Corte Ingles to exchange the pan for larger one. When we returned to our humble abode Trey said, "Wow if we had a hard time with fitting Thomas in the fridge will he fit in the oven?"
It was the moment of truth....we put Thomas in the pan and placed the pan in the oven! It fit and Trey and I rested easy that night! Yahoo, the hard part was over now, and all we just had to do was wake up, take out the bag of organs, spice him up, and cook him right? Well thats what we thought... and boy were we wrong.
So there Trey and I were, in our PJs, staring at Thomas. You see in the states the neck and organs are already removed for you and placed insidea plastic bag that is then placed inside turkey for a clean, easy way to begin the preparation of your turkey. While here in Spain all of the insides, neck, and occaisional difficult feathers are still attached.
After youtubing how to remove a turkey neck both of us elbows deep in a turkey and taking turns whestling out the neck, desifering betweens where all of the organs were, and using kitchen scissors to remove the remaining feathers he was ready to prep. We used a combination of spices and recipes and had several whatsapp messages back and forth with my mom to ensure we would have the perfect turkey! As the incredible aroma began take over our little apartment, we knew we had done something right! Above is a picutre of our final product! MEET Thomas the Turkey!
We had just finished Thomas in time to get the shin dig, and we began to pack up our contributions. We called a cab because we figured with an 18 lb turkey and a 15 lb dog, it would be easier than taking the metro. Yes, Cash even joined us for the Expat Framily Thanksgiving. After all he is an expat too! In fact the hostest even suggested we bring him, so we couldn't leave the Cashman out of all the fun! When we arrived everyone was unpacking there sides and the hostest and Michelle had put together some delicious appitizers. The Holiday cocktails were a perfect touch and just what everyone needed after cooking all day. We all finished up our cooking and heating up one by one. I never realized how much I took space for granted until I moved to Spain. Becky and Kathryn even had a much larger kitchen than a traditional Spainsh kitchen , but even with a smaller space we all managed to make a beautful spread.
One thing I cannot forget to mention is the amazing prepartion and recipes of all the side dishes. Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving with out all the sides and sides we had!!! We had green bean cassarole, mac and cheese, stuffing, sweet potato cassarole, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh cranberries and bread. It was a taste of America in Spain that night and we enjoyed every bite of it! Oh and I was saving the best part for last... the desserts! Many of us could not stomach because they had gone back for seconds (cough cough TREY) but we had apple crumb, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin spiced bread to choose from.
As we all sat down at the beatifully set table, set by our hostest with the mostest Becky, to begin our feast we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for. It was humbling, and moving to hear what our new found Expat family had to say. One common theme was this experience and opportunity to live abroad.
After that ever so moving grateful circle the table went quite other than OHHHHs and Awwees and your occasional outbursts of "omgoodness this is so good" from literally everyone at the table.
We all ate so much food that I think we all were in a food como for the remaining of the evening. Cash was the only one who wanted to be photographed in this state of utterfullness. As you can see he is just miserable! We finished off the evening discussing politics very delicately, I think this made many of us American feel right at home. Followed by a very lively game of pictionary and drinking wine until nearly 1am. It may not have been our traditional Thanksgiving, but it sure was one of the most memorable Thanksgivings I have ever had. As I laid my head on the pillow that night to go to sleep, I told Trey how turly grateful I was that we decided to live abroad and experience this life together.