26 November 2010

The Almost Thanksgiving Dinner

When you grow up in the States, Thanksgiving is a national holiday that takes on distinct meaning depending on your family and their traditions. It was my first Thanksgiving away from "home". I decided to create a holiday celebration here. But of course since the actual day was not honored with a day off from work in the Netherlands, and many guests had commitments late in November, so we chose November 13 as the date to accommodate our guests' schedules. 

Yesterday we hosted 11 guests (4 Dutch, 2 German and 5 Americans) in our home.  Made for some interesting table conversation regarding favorite foods, holiday celebrations and other unique national traditions. Each brought a dish (from a starter suggestion list) and it was a superb meal (see below). It also helped us Americans in Rotterdam not miss our familiar holiday celebrations so much.

I sent the following introduction to our guests not familiar with the holiday-
For the non-Americans in the bunch, a short intro. to "Thanksgiving"... Basically said, the Pilgrims (English Dissenters) fled England for the "calm and tolerance" of Holland and later moved to North America to establish a new colony on their own in search religious and political freedom. (No wonder they are still fighting in the states over it today).   The Pilgrims (not to be confused with Puritans), landed in what is known today as Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The holiday has it's ties to 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest.  (The early stories of the Pilgrims have connection to Amsterdam and Leiden). 

It wasn't until 1789 that George Washington created the first Thanksgiving Day.  You can read Wikipedia for ALL that transpired up to the present day celebration  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(United_States).  

But for brevity sake... (trust me when I say this day is far from its religious beginnings).  The modern day Thanksgiving is a day when friends and family come together, (heavy travel time in the US), enjoy a huge harvest meal, (eat and drink a lot) attend or watch parades, some watch football (yes, the REAL football) with laughter and joy for being together.  I am grateful that we will be together.  So we shall commence the celebration tomorrow (since calendar conflicts prevented the actual American holiday). 

It is only fitting that the American Expats and the Dutch gather.

On the officially recognized US holiday (November 25) it was just an ordinary Thursday here-  sunny, very brisk air but sans snow.  It was forecasted, but the snowstorm decided to stall out until Saturday. Wow, it was such a wonderful celebration- one I'll treasure for a long time!

The "Almost Thanksgiving" Dinner Menu
(November 13, 2010)  
5:30pm - Apertif
6:00pm - Dinner (avondmaaltijd)
Board/card games to follow (bring a favorite)
Joey and Gabi's house
(final food prep; for kitchen time @ 4:30pm)

Beverages:  (Dranken)
Prosecco for toast (Prosecco)
Beer with meal (Bier)
Red Wine with meal (Rode Wijn)
French Pressed Coffee and Tea with Dessert (koffie)
Carbonated water) available throughout (Spa rood)

Main Course: (Hoofdgerect)
Chicken Slices (got organic Kipboetjes t since I could not find turkey in the meat markets)
Sage/celery Dressing (selderij dressing)
Garlic Mashed Potatoes  (knoflook)
Brussel Sprouts (spruijes)
Salad  (salade)
Fresh fruit mix (vers fruit)
Lemon glazed carrots with rucola (citroen geglaceerde worteljes)

Accompaniments: (Begeleidingen)
Dinner Rolls (brood)
Butter (boter)
Cranberry sauce  (cranberrysaus)
Cornbread with cheddar and onions  (misbrood met cheddar en uien)

Desserts:  (Nagerecten)
Pumpkin Pie (Poempentaart)
Lemon Tart  (Citroentaart)
Whipped Cream  (Slagroom)

*Dutch translations are the best I have for now. Give me some compassion, I'm still learning the language.

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