Last week I cooked up my first Thanksgiving dinner for a small international crowd in Amman.
Throughout my childhood and up until a few years ago, my Thanksgiving was always spent at my grandparent’s house. There were always exactly 11 McAdams family members seated at the table and we always had exactly the same dishes. (I was truly a child comforted by routine.)
My first Thanksgiving without the other 10 McAdams family members was in 2006 when I studied abroad in Cadiz, Spain. I felt very sorry for myself that Thursday morning as I attended classes, and I still have never felt so far from home as I did then. That afternoon the program director roasted a big turkey and we had a potluck dinner at a restaurant in front of the baroque cathedral. I brought sweet potatoes with multicolored marshmallows: the only type I could find were the novelty shaped spirals.
It remains in my (very bad) memory as one of my best spent meals in Spain.
In 2010 I was living abroad again, this time in Fez, Morocco. I was part of a close group of expats, one of whom bought a live turkey and kept it on the roof of her house until taking it to the butcher on Thanksgiving morning. That afternoon, I made buttermilk biscuits and green beans with onions at Lillie’s host family’s house. We went to a potluck dinner that night in the old medina, at the house I eventually lived in for 6 months.
This year, with no American friends around, I thought I’d let the holiday pass unobserved. I mentioned the upcoming holiday casually to my Italian roommate who promptly got very excited about the prospect of stuffing a turkey “like they do on TV”. So I bought an 8 kilo turkey and made Thanksgiving dinner the way my grandma used to for two Italians, a Jordanian, a Lebanese and a South African. The apartment smelled like home and we all ate too much, true to McAdams tradition.