(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not an official Fulbright Program blog; the views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving in Romania

Romanian Thanksgiving

We had our retired neighbors, Luchi and Cornel, over for an American Thanksgiving dinner.   We also invited two American college students studying Romanian here, Bailey and Paul. We could say it was an American cultural exchange, as we shared an American custom with our Romanian friends, complete with translators.  You could also say we helped two  American students have a bit of home.

No surprise, Thanksgiving is not celebrated here in Romania. Our neighbors had heard about the holiday, but of course, had never participated.  We made the traditional turkey and dressing and giblet gravy, with winter squash, fruit salad, vegetable salad, and chocolate cake for dessert.

Turkey and all the trimmings
So one thing you get used to living in another culture is that the things you take for granted in your home culture, like going to the store and buying turkey and dressing ingredients, takes a lot more time and effort to locate and buy.  Dan had located a poultry butcher who had fresh turkeys, but twice went there to find they had sold out for the day.  Nancy consulted the source of all Romanian wisdom, her friends at the International Women's Club, to find where the best turkeys are. She went to the HyperMarket (sounds like a supermarket on Ritalin; actually more like a WalMart with a supermarket) and bought a frozen turkey with the temperature button that tells when it is done. Helpful tool.

We had all the cornbread ingredients already, and bought whatever fresh vegetables were at the market: squash, lettuce, spinach,  clementine oranges, kiwi, pomegranites; and apples and grapes from the garden. Now the challenge is to cook a full meal for six people in our tiny apartment with a two burner stove and small oven.

All it takes is time and organization.  Only one thing at a time can go into the oven, and even at its highest temperature (who knows what that is) things seem to take forever.  So Dan started cooking on Wednesday: squash in the oven at 8:00 am, done by 9:30.

Oh, and to add a little challenge to the activities, the electricity went off in the neighborhood at about 9:00. Fortunately, we have a gas oven, but can't clean house today. Since our water heater is electric, that also means that Dan can't take a shower or work on the internet.

Turkey in the oven at 10:15 (3.8 kg = 8.9 lbs; estimate 20 min per lbs at 375 degrees, it would need to cook 3 hours); three hours later it started smelling pretty darn good, so we checked it and, bingo, the little temperature button says its done! Enough for today.  Once everything cooled, into the refrigerator and hope the electricity comes back on or we will have to put everything out on the front porch to chill overnight.

Fortunately, the electricity came back on about 4:00.

The next morning Dan cleaned house, dusting and vacuuming everything, moving tables into the living room to seat six.  (Yes, Dan cleaned house.)

Dan started on the cornbread at 12:30, done in 20 min.  Cake in the oven at 1:30 for 1 hour; Nancy added all the good stuff to the dressing, in the oven at 3:00 for an hour.  Nancy made the salads and Dan set the table.  Warm up the  turkey for an hour (in at 4:00), warm up the squash and dressing just before the guests arrive at 5:00.  Somewhere in there, we realized we didn't have a wine, so Dan strolled down to the neighborhood market and bought wine and an extra loaf of bread.

See, anything is possible if you can devote all your attention to it for two to four days.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! Sounds like you had a lot to be thankful for--glad it all worked out!