Come Si Dice….Happy Turkey Day?

24 Nov


When I decided to come to Italy during the fall I knew I’d be missing out on Thanksgiving, but for me the experience to come to Italy was far greater than remaining at home to celebrate the holiday. In fact unlike most my peers I hardly thought about the holiday, I didn’t think it was sad that I wasn’t with my family eating dinner, I didn’t crave Turkey and mashed potatoes, or even pumpkin pie ( my favorite). After all I was in Italy surrounded by beautiful scenery, and accessible to the most delicious food, so what was I missing out on?

But as the holiday season approached I began thinking that a nice Thanksgiving meal for my Italian friends here might be a nice idea, after all they had all opened their homes to me, made me delicious Italian foods, and had been there anytime I had a problem (which was quite often). So why not return the favor with a nice American meal, and what better meal than Thanksgiving.

I mentioned the idea to Roberta, who immediately volunteered her house; she’s quite the entertainer so I was confident the dinner would be great, although I was also bit nervous, as I have never even attempted to help with Thanksgiving dinner and suddenly I found myself volunteering to make my first Thanksgiving dinner for 9 people, nine Italians who might I add are used to eating pretty delicious food….guess you could say the pressure was on.

We began planning a week prior to the dinner which was set for the Friday after Thanksgiving. On Tuesday night I headed to Roberta’s house to plan the Thanksgiving menu. I was surprised to find that she had printed out several (more like a stack) of traditional thanksgiving recipes. I had planned on making a traditional menu, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and apple and pumpkin pie which may not seem like enough but as we Americans know this is a very filling meal. However, Roberta wasn’t too convinced she also wanted to include several other plates which would be served for antipasto (as appetizers).

We also discussed the table arrangements (a topic which I could care less about), but because Roberta is a perfectionist, I humored her and agreed to everything she said without listening. Turns out I should’ve listened because an hour later we were getting out of the car and entering the home goods section of a department store looking for the perfect table liners and decorative table accessories for the next two hours….I never thought anyone could be as bad as my Mom when it came to shopping but looks like Roberta takes the cake.

Thursday night I headed over to Roberta’s to start prepping for the next day. She seemed especially anxious about the sauce for the turkey (she had even called me a few nights earlier to inform me there was a sauce for the turkey, (apparently I had forgot to mention the gravy which can only be prepared once the turkey is cooked using the turkey drippings). we prepared the broth (using turkey bones, vegetables, and hot water), and we also cleaned the turkey and filled the cavity with lemon, garlic, salt, peppers, rosemary, and sage….everything was in place and ready to go.

Friday morning I decided to go swimming early in the morning, I was looking forward to an hour of peace before the busy day of craziness began. Roberta dropped me off at the pool at 9:00 a.m. and told me she’d meet me at the grocery store around the block at 10:15 (apparently we still had some shopping to do). I told her I would call her when I arrived. The only problem was I didn’t have my phone, I immediately ran after her car but it was too late and she was nowhere to be found. While I was swimming I tried not to think about it, knowing everything would work out, but somewhere in the back of my mind I had a feeling another fun adventure was awaiting me ( and by fun I mean stressful and unnecessary). I walked down to the super market expecting to find a small grocery store instead I found a large shopping plaza with numerous entrances….things just got a bit more interesting. Not knowing what to do I went to the information desk and I asked if I could use their phone to call Roberta. I couldn’t use the phone by they said they would call on my behalf…the only problem was she didn’t pick up…great. It was now 10:30 15 minutes after we were supposed to meet so I assumed she was already at the supermarket, although I now began to wonder if she went back to the pool to look for me, this was quickly becoming a disaster and with Thanksgiving dinner planned for today I had no time for disasters. I decided to do a walk through of the store in search of Roberta. All of a sudden there was a page over the loud speaker. “Kait, Kait, Roberta will be arriving in a few minutes”… embarrassing.

Finally we arrived home and started cooking in Roberta’s entirely too small kitchen which can barely fit one person, however somehow we made it work. Luckily she has a veranda attached to the kitchen, so anytime one of us had to open the fridge or the oven the other one simply stepped outside. Although her kitchen may be tiny Roberta is quite creative, in fact we utilized several rooms when prepping, such as the guest room for toasting bread.

During our 6 hours of cooking the power went out three times (a typical occurrence in Italy when more than two things are running at the same time) in our case it was the dish washer, the toaster and the vacuum.

At last everything was done  the table was set and our company was arriving in excited anticipation for the Italian American eating experience.

We started the night out with aperitivo, we made bellini (champagne and peach juice) and served crackers and peanuts as a pre pre appetizer

Then It was time for the Italian inspired part of our meal made by Roberta for antipasto

First we had Salami with Fig Marmalade

Next we had Wrustel wrapper in Puff pastry, or Pigs in the Blanket

Then we had polenta crostini with a sausage, leek and tomato topping

 And crostini topped with cavolo nero

To finish up our anitpasto Roberta made a delicious zucchini quiche

Then it was time for the Traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner

First and foremost the turkey, the main event which was served over roasted carrots. The Turkey was delicious and rubbed olive oil and herbs to enhance the flavor when cooking

Roberta did an excellent job carving the turkey

Of course no thanksgiving is complete without stuffing, I made this with sausage, butternut squash, crispy italian bread, sautéed onions, and rosemary and sage finely chopped

I made creamy garlic mashed potatoes with scallions

Next up green beans with bacon, toasted almonds, and carmalized onions

A pretty authentic main course

Of Course no meal would be complete without dessert, so we had Apple and Pumpkin pie

This had probably been one of my favorite and most memorable Thanksgivings ever. There are so many things I am thankful for this year, one being my father, without him and his effort to maintain his friendships with his friends here in Italy I would never have the opportunity to have met them and experience the true Italian lifestyle.

Here Lucia, Wanda, and Roberta are now talking to my Dad on Skype.

I am also of course thankful for all these amazing friends I have made here in Italy; they have truly made my experience here so much better, they are the reason why I have enjoyed my time here and the reason why I will return.


2 Responses to “Come Si Dice….Happy Turkey Day?”

  1. Our Adventure in Croatia November 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    wow! amazing Thanksgiving dinner for Italians!! what a combination of dishes, no wonder it took 6 hours to prepare…….. and no pasta in sight! 😉

    • La Cucina Di Kait November 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      hahaah I said no to the pasta..i wanted a traditional American meal…of course there’s a bit of italian influence but i am content

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