Thursday is Thanksgiving and it is looking like it will be quite a celebration here in Lubutu. Although every European living at Couvent is anxious to eat a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, it looks unlikely to happen. Rather than think about what I might prepare (or, rather, have the cooks prepare) I have been making a list of the foods unavailable here, but necessary to prepare the traditional meal.
First is turkey. A fellow expatriate swore that last week they saw one "somewhere down by the river." After the sighting, I took several walks down to the river, approaching it from all known directions. I have talked to everyone I saw, drew a picture of a turkey (as no one knew what I was talking about), and been met only with amused puzzlement.
Even if we could delude ourselves into thinking that one of the scrawny chickens here was a turkey, nothing else is available either. Stuffing? Yes, there is white bread but no sage, pecans, or celery. Cranberries do not exist and neither do oranges. No sweet potatoes or yams, brown sugar, or marshmallows. No one has ever seen a pumpkin and none of the spices are available anyway. Yesterday I described the fabrication of gravy to the kitchen staff. In return they traded glances that subliminally said, "does he really want us to mix fat and flour together, whisking constantly over a low to medium heat, then slowly add preheated turkey stock (what is a turkey anyway?), continuing to whisk so as not to form lumps? Does anyone actually bother to do this and would anyone eat the results?"
So I think the gravy is out, too.
That leaves mashed potatoes. We have those here in Lubutu. We have them twice per day, every day, in fact. There is no milk or cream or butter to make them palatable, but we have plain mashed potatoes. From what I can tell, my Thanksgiving dinner is likely to be a huge pile of mashed potatoes covered with the ubiquitous Couvent tomato sauce.
Even though lacking in the culinary side of the holiday, I am still thankful for much in my life. I'm thankful to be healthy and able to improve the health of others. I'm thankful for my privileged background and the opportunities this life has afforded me. I'm thankful that I have known love, forgiveness, and friendship. And I am thankful to be here in Lubutu.
Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!