Now here is where I am going to be a bit annoying and tell you the REAL Thanksgiving story. The ACTUAL first American Thanksgiving happened in Richmond, Virginia (yes, that's my city!) at Berkley Plantation, and it was in the spring. The wealthy plantation owners of European descent had a big feast to thank God for getting them through the winter with their crops and land and possessions intact. However, that's not the story that most Americans know. We are all taught about the second American Thanksgiving, which happened in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Pilgrims from Europe arrived in America without enough resources to get them through the winter. They were saved by the American Indians, who shared their harvest with the pilgrims. The pilgrims then cooked a feast using some of the provisions and ate with their new Indian friends. Obviously, this makes a better story (two cultures coming together and sharing their wealth) than the Virginia story of rich people retaining their riches. In the end, though, those same pilgrims brought diseases and wars that eventually killed off the Indians who originally saved the Pilgrims. So that story didn't end very well either. But anyway, those are the two stories, and you can do with them what you will.
I had my own little Pilgrim and Indian story this year (and mine does have a happy ending). You see, whichever YASCer is in the Cape Town area is in charge of organizing Thanksgiving dinner for the HOPE Africa offices. Since Emily has returned to the US, this job fell to me. On Monday, I went out to buy my turkey to make sure it would have plenty of time to thaw in the refrigerator like it's supposed to. Yes, they do sell turkeys in South African grocery stores, but they only have small ones. So instead of one 15 pounder, I had to buy two smaller turkeys to feed the office, which means they needed to hang out in the freezer for another 24 hours before I started to thaw them. Here is where I encountered a problem: my freezer needs to be defrosted, and it is so full of ice that the door was stuck shut! OH NO! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY BIRDS????
I sent a frantic text message to my friend Dewald, who lives close by, begging him to let me use his freezer for 24 hours. Luckily, Dewald happened to be at home, and we managed to rearrange all of his ice cream (who keeps like 4 half gallons of ice cream in their freezer anyway?) to fit the birds.
The next problem was getting the birds from Hawston to Cape Town. I tried putting the birds in the car like this:
But I was afraid that wouldn't really be food safe. Remember, it's summer here, and with traffic it can be a two hour drive. I was worried about driving partially thawed birds in a hot car for that long. Well, Dewald came to the rescue again with his cooler bag. My birds (who I have by now started to call Tom and Jerry) rode in ice pack-conditioned comfort.
They were good passengers. They didn't complain about my driving or my singing along to the radio.
So there you have it. A nice little version of the Pilgrim and Indian Thanksgiving story, in which an expat in a strange land (me) was saved from disaster (or at least my turkeys were saved) by a friendly and obliging local (or rather, his freezer and cooler bag).
Once I got to Cape Town, I was able to start making the other dishes I had planned, specifically macaroni and cheese and pecan pies. Other traditional Thanksgiving dishes were provided by HOPE Africa staffers, and a former HOPE Africa YASCer from a few years ago who happens to be in Cape Town right now, and whose name is, confusingly, Emily. But this is a different Emily than the one you've seen pictures of.
I have never made a turkey before. Luckily, I have been emailing back and forth with my mom for several days getting all her turkey-related wisdom, and I have also googled 'how to cook a turkey'. That makes me fully qualified as a bird-preparer.
I got the idea of stuffing some sliced lemons into my birds from a blog. Sounded like a good idea to me!
There they are, Tom and Jerry, all dressed up and ready to go!
Khilowe made some roasted veggies. Apparently this was a big deal, because she is known to hate the kitchen with a fiery passion.
Delene made an awesome fresh salad.
Last night I made a giant vat of macaroni and cheese while I was at Anhouse. All I had to do today was bake it. I also made two chocolate chip pecan pies. I had to substitute some very American ingredients for the closest South African equivalent. Corn syrup simply does not exist outside of America! The HOPE Africa office has a well-stocked kitchen, but it lacks some things that I needed for the pies. Like pie pans. And a rolling pin.
Yes, I am using my Nalgene to roll out a pie crust. The Washington and Lee University Outing Club taught me well!
Yup, looks like pie crust!
Pretty soon, everything was ready and we were all gathered in the board room. Thankfully, Delene was willing to carve the turkey. Otherwise, I would have butchered it I'm sure.
The finished products were all delicious!
Jenny and Khilowe enjoyed Tom and Jerry.
The chocolate chip pecan pie! It turned out just fine, despite the improvisation. You know that desserts is stressed spelled backwards, right?
So you can see that I had a lovely Thanksgiving with the HOPE Africa staff, otherwise known as my South African family. I hope that, wherever you are in this world, your Thanksgiving was also enjoyable.
Before I sign off for the day, I just want to list a few things I'm thankful for. This is in no particular order, and it is by no means a complete list. It's just the things that are in my head right now.
New friends in South Africa
Old friends at home
This beautiful area of the world that is my home for a year
The other YASCers
My patients and the staff I work with at the care centre
That my Mizuno running shoes are sold in a store in Cape Town
That even half a world away, I can find running buddies
St. John's Church in Richmond, VA
St. Peter's Church in Hermanus, Western Cape
A working water heater (or geyser as we say here)
My purple teddy bear
... and of course blog readers!