This is my first holiday season in Australia as a temporary expat and, while I am embracing doing all the Aussie things, skipping the American Thanksgiving holiday is just not on the table (haha! Get it?) The neighbors have heard of Thanksgiving, of course, due to the proliferation of American films and television, and were excited to receive their invitations to the feast. So plans were made, me feeling happy and a little smug to be responsible for showing some locals the best of the quintessential American feast day. Welp…
They Don’t Call it Turkey Day for Nothing
In November in America, you can buy an enormous frozen turkey on any corner for less than the cost of a Caramel Macchiatto from Starbucks, which is also on every corner. Not so in OZ! There is no traditional turkey meal in November– which is Summer to start with– and, incidentally there are not really any Starbucks, either. (There are a grand total of forty-four Starbucks in the whole country, and they are only in three cities. This has nothing to do with my point, which was about turkeys, except that I thought you might want to know.) Luckily I was able, after making a couple calls, to locate a local gourmet provisioning shop where I could order a fresh, organic, free-range turkey for approximately the same cost as replacing the engine in a Porsche.
Love it or Hate it, Pumpkin Pie is about as Thanksgiving-y a Food as Ever Graced a Fork. It is commonly made with canned pumpkin.
They don’t sell canned pumpkin in Australia.
No worries, the produce manager said, we have fresh pumpkins.
It gets better: what she was calling a pumpkin wasn’t this ↓
It was this ↓
Solution: When in Rome, or in South Australia, do as the locals do; so I decided to crown this butternut squash Pumpkin for a Day! I did some research and found out that American Pumpkin pie is actually made with some of this bad boy anyway! This article made me smile and gave me confidence to try a truly homemade pumpkin(ish) pie myself from top to bottom, I located a spice blend that is popular here called Mixed Spice which is pretty much Pumpkin Pie Spice, so I felt ready to puree some vegetables and call it pie!
I forgot to get a picture when it was all whole and pretty but here it is in all its half-eaten glory. I served it with freshly whipped cream and the Aussies were duly impressed considering they were eating dessert made out of a gourd.
The easy recipe I used for the pie is here, but I used my own famous (to me) Cold as Hoth Butter Crust recipe for the crust. There were other challenges, such as no concept of fresh cranberries here and no French’s fried onions for a green bean casserole, as well as a blocked kitchen sink that will be requiring a visit from the plumber tomorrow– you don’t know stress until you’re scrubbing potatoes in the laundry room an hour before your guests arrive- but all told, it was a very successful first holiday as an expat and I was happy to share it with my Australian friends, and they said they were honoured to be invited to a special American celebration.
The full menu:
Assorted cheeses and fruit
Roast turkey with sausage and sage stuffing
Fresh vegetable salad
Green beans with toasted almonds
Mashed potatoes with so much butter that I think I created a nationwide shortage
Pecan Sweet potatoes with brown sugar and brandy
Fresh (well, frozen, but not tinned) cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce with fresh mint and lime
Retro mango Jello mold with sliced peaches
Rolls and butter
Pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream
Apple pie with salted caramel ice cream
None of this has digested yet and I’m just lying here in a food-haze telling you about it from my iPad.
To all my friends, wherever you are celebrating: be well, remember what Thanksgiving means to you, not what someone else says it means. Be kind to yourself, take good care of each other, and don’t forget to log into Steam for their Black Friday deals once your turkey coma recedes.