Monday, December 1, 2008

Operation: Thanksgiving in 'Nam

As you may know, I love Thanksgiving. A holiday of unparalleled excellence, Thanksgiving is a beautiful time to unite family and friends, enjoy sumptous good food (especially Dad's stuffing & Mom's cranberry sauce), and give thanks for the wonderful things and people in our lives. I was quite sad not to be able to share that with my family (& Andy who still made it to my house!) this year.

As we did not get the day off, my Thanksgiving celebrations had to be postponed to Saturday, but I was determined to make it happen. Once I got the idea into my head, I found several others who were interested. And we all seemed to have non-American friends who wanted to join in the fun as well. It didn't seem to be adding up to too many people until suddenly we were having a dinner for 18+ people (it turned out to be 21 at the final count!).

From Operation Thanksgiving in 'Nam

Now, let's begin with the fact that I've never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner or organized one on my own. Then examine the relative availability of traditional Thanksgiving ingredients. Once you've pondered those obstacles, consider the fact that our kitchen equipment included 2 pots & frying pans, a 2 burner stove, 1 rice cooker, an electric kettle, and a fridge. Oh, and did I forget to mention that we only have about 9 chairs in the entire house? Hmmm... Well, the pilgrims certainly seemed to make due, so none of this made any difference, and in fact just steeled our wills further!

From Operation Thanksgiving in 'Nam

That, for example, was the oven we located. It was at Sylvia's house, and fortunately plugs into the wall so it could be carried down several alleys, put in a cab, and then carried down several more alleys to our house for a few days!

From Operation Thanksgiving in 'Nam

Then there was an Excel spreadsheet shopping list, divided into categories according to where we thought the ingredients could be found. We're talking as specific as having to go to one shop for butter, another shop all the way across town for bullion cubes, the market for produce, several different markets all over the city to get the required number of potatoes (we cleaned out a bunch of different women of their produce) - I think we finally had 6 kilos of potatoes, or something mad like that. Raisins, fresh yogurt, different spices, canned cranberry sauce - all of these were like puzzle pieces we searched for.

Fortunately there was great teamwork in the cooking, and several people brought prepared dishes. This included Jen's salad of arugula (who knows where she found that!) and Mel's pumpkin pie. Well, why don't I just share the entire menu?

Cheddar, rosemary & thyme biscuits (Aaron)
Banana Flower Salad (brought by Annette, from the bia hoi under the railroad tracks with the best banana flower salad in town)
Arugula Salad (Jen) with a delicate balsamic dressing, baby mandarin oranges and sesame seeds

Five roasted chickens (a Vietnamese lady)
Stuffing with raisins and pine nuts (Katy)
Vegan main dish of pseudo stuffed peppers (Katy)

Sweet potatoes mashed with bananas (Alison Jones)
Mashed potatoes with yogurt, butter & garlic (Aaron)
Green beans with onions and garlic (Alison and Scott)

Apple crumble (Long)
Pumpkin Pie (Mel)
Pumpkin no-bake cheesecake (Mel)
Vanilla Ice cream (Simon via Fanny's)

Wine & beer!

From Operation Thanksgiving in 'Nam

Now that's what I call a menu! Even better, we had a gaggle of countries represented, with showings from America, France, Holland, Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand, and we had several "first" Thanksgivings!

From Operation Thanksgiving in 'Nam

All in all, it was the first Thanksiving where I felt the accomplishment that the pilgrims might have at getting it all together!

The only problem... we also don't have a dishwasher.

From Operation Thanksgiving in 'Nam

1 comment:

Hoop said...

Oh my gosh--that looks amazing! I hope it was wonderful. Happy American Thanksgiving, love :)