An American Thanksgiving in Poland
November 25, 2010
An American Thanksgiving in Poland


Last Thursday when we were having dinner at Fabian's house, Natasha and I announced our plan to co-host Thanksgiving dinner at my flat.

To plan Thanksgiving dinner in Poland: First, you need to find a store that has a whole turkey. When you find the turkey, it is chilling out behind the deli counter. One turkey, all by itself. I pointed and said, "Jeden indyk proszę! (One turkey, please!)", the guy picked the turkey up by the leg and put the whole bird on the scale. Since the turkey is not nicely wrapped like a Butterball turkey, he had to stuff it into deli bags and, three bags later, I have a 6.6kg  turkey to carry around the store. Then, I carried the enormous turkey (the size of a small child) on the 30 minute bus ride back to my house from the store... *sigh* Next, you rally the troops and get them excited about participating in an American Thanksgiving! That was the easy part. :)


Natasha and I planned the dinner potluck style, because neither of us wanted to cook an entire dinner for twenty people. For the most part, people wanted to bring drinks. I understand, that is the easiest option. But, we sorted it out so that not everyone brought drinks. We had three absolutely DELICIOUS desserts, and a three or four absolutely DELICIOUS salads! Thank you EVERYONE who contributed to the meal! :)

Cooking the turkey was by far the funniest thing ever. Natasha had a turkey recipe from her mom, and we followed the directions, including the stuffing, to the T. We had not-stale-enough bread that we had to toast for the stuffing, and once the stuffing was made Natasha stuffed the turkey. The turkey barely fit in the roasting pan. Once the stuffed turkey was in the pan, we realized we didn't have twine to tie the turkey's legs together for cooking, so we used sewing thread (it worked!). The turkey was tied, then we covered it with butter and onions. It was oven ready.

Natasha's instructions said to cook the turkey at "not more than 260 degrees". My oven only went up to 250° C, and Natasha started freaking out that it wasn't going to be hot enough. Well... Twenty minutes into the cooking process, the oven starts smoking, we found that there were burnt and crispy onions that jumped from the turkey and landed on the bottom of the oven. Natasha started to freak out, because the turkey was cooking too quickly. We turned the oven down 50°, and continued cooking. I'd prepped the potatoes the day before, we put them on to boil, and I was on sweet potato peeling duty. These were the saddest, skinniest sweet potatoes I've ever seen. But, they still cooked deliciously.

Next, Mari came over. She brought the items for making a salad, and she, Natasha, and I sat down to look at flights to Finland. Yes. Finland. :) Mari showed Natasha and I the flight she was taking, and as we were in the process of booking it, it got booked. So, we had to find a different flight. I didn't have time to sort out the flight drama, because I needed to get to Centralny to meet Hannah, a friend living in Germany who I hadn't seen in 10+ years.

Back at the flat after getting Hannah, Natasha told me how the drama unfolded. We were getting a different flight and Mari had to go back to her flat to book it because the website only took Finnish credit cards, and Mari's was at home. But, the flight is booked, and I will be spending a week in the Arctic Circle for Christmas!!!!!!! Ok.

Back to food. So, Natasha had done more cooking in my absence, and the food smelled DELICIOUS. The turkey was looking very done, but it was done about two hours sooner than we
'd expected. Natasha Googled "how to tell if a turkey is done cooking", and we poked and prodded this bird and determined that yes, it was cooked. It was the next day that Natasha realized that her mom's directions were in Fahrenheit, because the Canadian ovens come from the United States. The turkey was cooking about 125° hotter than it should have been. Oops... It still turned out super tasty! :)

People started showing up with food and drinks, and the eating commenced! I made four zillion trips down to the bus stop from my flat to collect people, and I didn't get to start eating for about another 30 minutes. The meal was well worth the wait! :) I squeezed about twenty people in my tiny flat. There were a few spills, lots of tiptoeing around people and their food, but it was really great. :)

After dinner, Natasha started the "Thanksgiving" part of the evening, and we went around the circle with everyone saying something they were thankful for. I heard lots of comments about how cool it was to have a holiday just for eating and being thankful. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to share my favorite holiday with new people.
 
The party ended around 3:00a. Natasha and Hannah helped me recruit people to collect all of the bottles and cans, take out the garbage, and help make my flat livable again. After everyone was out, Hannah helped me with the last of the clean up, and we crashed hardcore.

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