No Turkey for this Thanksgiving

When you live in a foreign country, the local celebrations are thrust upon you, with limited options to bypass them, laying low under the radar. Thanksgiving is one of the American holidays it’s hard to miss while living in the country.

It’s the big holiday, right before the Holidays, almost like a wedding rehearsal before the real deal. It’s all about family and what it seems to be a country-wide eating contest.

Thanksgiving dinner traditions in USA.
Thanksgiving dinner traditions in USA.

When that time of the year comes in the US, one has little chance of missing on the event, being reminded of it by opulent street parades, like the Macy’s, by the frenzy of finding the best turkey stuffing recipe, or the world-famous by now Black Friday.

A few years ago, a bunch of students from 6 corners of the world got stuck alone in town for Thanksgiving, while their American friends were road tripping back to their home-States. They were coming from as many countries as distinct cultures: Peru, Germany, Argentina, Palestine, Puerto Rico and Romania. Having time off from school and nowhere to go to, they decided to get in the game with the American tradition and celebrate Thanksgiving. As the pièce de résistance of this American holiday is the eating part, the students went along with it, but put a multicultural spin, organizing an international-cuisine dinner.

To make it more fun, they got together to cook and share recipes, to learn new ways of mixing ingredients and flavors. One typical dish from each country, represented by the bunch of friends, made up the round-table smorgasbord: Peruvian ceviche, Argentinean empanadas, Romanian stuffed bell peppers or French-inspired salade de bœuf, Arabic homemade hummus and German white sausages. There was no turkey, however.

On full stomachs, the multi-culti crowd got thinking what they were grateful about, besides the copious dinner dishes they’d just discovered. Probably, not as a coincidence, it was often heard around the room that they were thankful for meeting their newly-found friends, for the possibility to celebrate together. Thankful for this American holiday which allowed them to create one of their own, the international version, and to boost their curiosity for culinary “oddities” from around the world.

On full stomachs, they learned that even thousands of miles away from their home, they could recreate home where they were, and they would become each other’s family. And the best way to create a new family is around the dinner table, following one of the oldest rituals in the world that brings people together: sharing food. Giving million thanks for that!

Photos source: Creative Commons


  1. yes, one of the few times many americans appreciate sitting around a table with family (unlike other countries where it is practically daily!) – What a fun memory for you and your international friends. My mother immigrated to the states from germany when she was in her 20s,so thanksgiving was an adopted holiday for her (and subsequently our family), so I remember many thanksgivings growing up with german infusions. I think whatever the food, the point is being thankful, being with friends and family. Sadly, black friday this year has now creeped earlier and earlier – with stores open for the first time even on thanksgiving which underlines for me how even important holidays like thanksgiving are not sacred anymore here!

    • And I am thankful for you being such a constant reader of my posts and commenter with interesting stuff! I didn’t know you have German origins, you must have had nice mixed holidays. As for the black friday.. yes, the consumerism is at its highest, unfortunately. I hope you had a good holiday, with family close!

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