November 27th, 2014
This year’s Thanksgiving started out like none other. For one thing, Stephen’s alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., which has to be the earliest I have even gotten up on a holiday that didn’t involve presents. Since a lot of the ingredients for a proper Thanksgiving dinner aren’t very easy to find here, like turkey (which the Brits eat during Christmas, instead), cornbread, cranberries, and the like, Stephen and I had made reservations at a Cajun restaurant called The Big Easy, which was serving a Thanksgiving menu all day. So even though I was up bright and early, there was no frantic rush to chop carrots, stuff the turkey, or start peeling potatoes.
Instead, I cleaned the house. And not because I wanted to or because it needed a good wipe-down, but simply because it was a holiday, and I couldn’t stand the idea of it being even a little bit dirty for our non-existent guests. Something about the holidays (evidently even when I’m in a country where the holiday doesn’t exist) brings out the clean freak in me! After cleaning the house, I finished decorating for Christmas. We had put up our tree a few weeks ago since they start decorating for Christmas so early here (and without Thanksgiving holding them back, who can blame them?), but there were still several decorations that I hadn’t yet put up. It felt so wrong to have the house fully decorated before Thanksgiving, so I resisted the temptation (why?) even when all the houses around me were already decked out in lights (BTW, they call them “fairy lights” here which I think sounds really magical and sweet.) I guess some things never change, no matter where you are.
Once I finished all of that, I ended up calling my family and wishing them a happy holiday, which should have made me happy but left me feeling a little depressed that I couldn’t wish them well in person. I ended up making cornbread to cheer myself up, and I have to say, it set me right again. Something as small as a familiar and much-loved food made me feel less disconnected and far away. So, thank you, to the makers of Jiffy, for a product that transports me home in 15-20 minutes, and to one of my favorite stores Partridges, for always having it in stock (I almost forgive you for the pricing!).
Once Stephen got home, we dressed in our Sunday best and headed to Covent Garden for our reservation. Along the way, we passed all sorts of Christmas decorations like the ones below. They really know how to do Christmas here, that’s for sure! But the question on our minds was whether they could do a good Thanksgiving!
As soon as we entered the restaurant, we were bombarded with hundreds of American accents, the smell of pumpkins, and American flags hanging along the walls. Stephen and I couldn’t stop smiling.
For my fellow food-lovers who care about this sort of thing, we started our meal with a spinach salad that had lots of cheese, toasted pecans, and raisins on top. Then they brought out the main course, which was turkey (white and dark meat!), bacon and cornbread stuffing, smashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Yummy! Then we finished with pumpkin pie covered with whipped cream. I don’t have a picture of the dessert because we practically inhaled it as soon as it hit the table. Even our drinks were festive and came in a cup that looked like a giant turkey leg!
We weren’t able to be with our families on Thanksgiving, but it was a comfort to be able to spend it surrounded by American food and people. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and ate as well as we did!