By: Lucia Loeb (USAC student studying in Viterbo)
Thanksgiving for me is not so much about the origin of the holiday as I am not a big fan of wiping out indigenous people, for me it is about friends, family and of course wonderfully delicious and overly filling food.
This year, I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to celebrate with my family so my American roommate; my American friend and I decided we would make it for my roommates. At first my roommates were excited about the idea and decided the best way to get a turkey in Italia was to kill it ourselves. I am not much of a hunter myself but I am always up for an adventure so I agreed. Not only did I agree to go along but I also agreed to kill it with a bow and arrow and to sneak onto some-ones farm. This idea went on for about a week before my roommate told me it was all a big joke. Although I was a little disappointed, it is probably good that we didn’t go through with it. Our other option for turkey was to order it from a Macelleria and pay between 50 and 60 euros. We decided to use chicken instead.
As the days got closer, my friend Katie and I got more and more excited but when we talked about this wonderful occasion with my roommates they didn’t seem quit as excited. Not only that, but when I described the menu for the day, they made faces of disgust. So I was feeling a little frustrated and disheartened about the whole plan.
However, on the day of Thanksgiving, I was excited. We did some last minute shopping, picked up the bread for stuffing and went to the Macelleria per due polli. As soon as we returned home, the Americans dominated the kitchen. It was nice finally having the kitchen to ourselves, with no Italians looking over our shoulders telling us how to cook.
We started with the stuffing by ripping up the huge loaf of bread into small pieces. We toasted the pieces while frying up the celery, onion, garlic, mushrooms and spices together. When the bread was toasted we added it all together and added some chicken broth. We proceeded to stuff it into the chickens. We let my roommate Alessandro help with that part. We covered the Chickens with foil and baked for about three hours.
Meanwhile we each worked on our own side dishes. Katie made sweet potatoes with brown sugar, orange zest and walnuts stuffed in orange peel bowls then baked. She also made classic mashed potatoes. Ace, my American roommate made the gravy with the chicken juices, as well as small biscuits.
I made a wonderful fennel dish courtesy of Christina. I started by cutting the fennel root into around 4 parts then boiled them for about ten minutes. Then I laid them in a baking tray, covered with breadcrumbs and baked for about twenty minutes. For the breadcrumbs, I used some that I had put aside from the stuffing mixed in with Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, olive oil and parsley. I think the dish came out good for my first try but I think the oven was too high because the breadcrumbs were a little dark, I also should have boiled them for a little longer.
I also made basic string beans, steamed for ten minutes then sautéed with garlic. The pies were simple because I have been making a lot of pies lately. I made pumpkin pie and apple pie. The crust for both was simply flour, butter, ice water, a pinch of salt and sugar. I bought a piece of Zucca from Eden Fruits, baked it for about twenty minutes, then chopped it into small pieces and put in the blender with a bit of milk. After I achieved the right consistency, I poured the liquid into a bowl and added powdered ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. I used honey for sweetening although I usually use maple syrup. After I poured the mixture into the piecrust I baked it for about forty minutes. For the apple pie, I cut the apples into thin slices and mixed in a little honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange juice. I placed the apples into the crust and rolled out doe the cover the apples. I baked this one for about the same time as the pumpkin.
While the food was cooking, Katie and I ran out and collected festive leaves. This is a very important part of Thanksgiving to me; I have always been the leaf collector since I was young. The only ones we could find were grape leaves but they worked perfectly. When we returned the kitchen smelled wonderful and nothing was on fire, so, thus far the day was a success. We agreed we would eat at 7 after much debate. I tried to explain to my roommates that Thanksgiving is traditionally eaten between lunch and dinnertime but they were not so pleased with the idea. So we had agreed on 7. However as the time approached my other roommate Daniele tried everything he could to stall the dinner as much as possible. So we ended up sitting down at a quarter till 8.
Before we dove in, we went around the table and each said what we were grateful for, which was surprisingly touching and sincere. Then we said Salute with our glasses of vino, Italian style, and a Buon Apetito. As we loaded up our plates and started eating, everyone fell silent which, I took as a good sign. Everyone enjoyed the food and the night was a success. I was stuffed after the first ten minutes. After dinner we had to wait a while until we could think about dessert. While we waited, we played games and had an absolutely wonderful time together.
Grazie a Tutti, Ciao Ciao Lucia