Ex-pat Thanksgiving

I was in a discussion recently in which a bunch of people were talking about food they couldn’t get their hands on, due to geographical reasons. There were English teachers in South Korea and Japan complaining about a lack of good sourdough bread and applesauce, but also people in Portland who missed New England clam chowder.

Then someone decided to point out that she thought that the whole point of travel was to experience new cultures and their food. But maybe she’s just weird like that.


1. There’s a huge difference between ‘traveling’ and ‘living’. I am not ‘traveling abroad’, I’m ‘living abroad’. My next glimpse of Smart Food popcorn is months away, not days or weeks.

2. Really, even if you are ‘just’ traveling, your food, from your country or your culture, is still a big part of you. And when you have a set-back, or a bad day, or a lonely moment, it’s only natural to think of comfort in a familiar form. And sometimes that form is Cheetos.

Anyway, what set the original discussion off was, of course, American Thanksgiving, which was this a week ago last Thursday. Thursday was a work day here, but Friday was actually a holiday – Labor Thanksgiving Day, as a matter of fact. Naturally, a friend and I took advantage of the fact to celebrate…on Saturday.

Surprise snow.

All of the windows in my house, save one, are frosted, so it was early afternoon before I poked my head outside and noticed that we’d had our first snowstorm. It stuck all day and made driving fun, but melted under the sun the next morning.

Appetizer plate – bread, apples, Camembert, homemade applesauce, and the last two mincemeat cookies from my Aunt Ann.

A traditional Thanksgiving feast in Japan takes some planning and forethought. For example, you might be able to find a turkey in stores down in Tokyo, but up here, one would have to be ordered from one of the many companies that specializes in separating foreigners from their money and reuniting them with their food. Since there were only two of us, we skipped the turkey entirely and went for some nice, cheap chicken breast.

In the above picture, I forgot to get jam for the bread, so I subbed in applesauce that I made last week in a fit of desperation. Unlike peanut butter, which is catching on here, there is no applesauce to be found. I waited for the apples to get cheap, cut the seeds out, boiled them up, and threw them into the blender. The flavor is divine, the texture is lacking. The blender only has one, overpowering setting. More experimentation is needed.

The spread.

In the end, we had broccoli, applesauce, mashed potatoes, and chicken (all locally sourced), as well as stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, turkey gravy, and lemon meringue pie (all made from ingredients that had to be shipped in).

Only on Thanksgiving.

The mashed potatoes were made with heavy cream, as god intended, and I wish I had another quart.

Now, some of you sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that ‘lemon meringue pie’ had to be shipped in. Pumpkin pie makes sense – a can of pumpkin, a homemade crust, and you’re set. But lemon meringue?

I preface this with saying that I have made lemon meringue in the past, from scratch. Once.

Oooh, ‘no bake’!

::shudder:: You make it from a mix. One mix for the crust, one for the filling, and one for the topping.

Sadly, except for the crust, it’s no better or worse than any supermarket pie I’ve had. And those supermarket pies are at least 6000 miles away.

The crust was crap though.



Filed under japan

2 responses to “Ex-pat Thanksgiving

  1. Dad

    You do have a way with both words and camera. Nice photos and very entertaining. That dinner plate looks downright handsome!

  2. Sarah Wynn

    Looks like you did a great job creating Thanksgiving in a foreign land. Looks very appetizing. John shared pics of your knitting projects with me. You are so talented. You may become an Md. but I hope you will create knitting projects (with directions) for others to make. Hugs. Aunt Sarah
    Hear you may be back briefly in August…hope to see you then.

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