The Thanksgiving baking started a week early when the American moms at my kids’ school put together a turkey lunch for the kids and I volunteered to make two batches of Thanksgiving-themed sugar cookies for it. Unsurprisingly, we were unable to find any turkey cookie cutters in town, but I had a pumpkin cookie cutter on hand, and that’s a fall theme, right? Anyway, that’s what we used. My kids helped cut the cookies out and they did almost all the icing. Seven noted that pumpkins were for Halloween, not Thanksgiving.
“True,” I answered. “But Halloween comes right before Thanksgiving and if we’re lucky the Italians will mix them up and no one will even notice.”
The cookies were delicious and we ended up making more the following day because, as the boys said, they’d had to give almost all of them away to the kids at school, after all that hard work!
On the actual Thanksgiving day I had a meeting with my photography group, so I took a pumpkin pie and some Prosecco. The day before, when I’d put the pie into the oven, I stood next to it and waited for a few minutes, until there is was, the smell of Thanksgiving! My mom and sister were at my sister’s house baking pies together at that very moment, but I tried not to think too much about that. Instead I went to my favorite florist, told her about my dinner, and she smiled widely. “I have an idea!” she said, and proudly showed me a big, beautiful squash.
On Thursday I picked up my turkey from the butcher: 5.68 kg, not too big, but not so small it wouldn’t impress my Italian guests. Then I baked two kilos of bread for later use as stuffing.
On Friday I put the turkey in a giant bag with brine, prepared my pie crust, baked my yams, then later made the pies and a batch of pecan bars and went to bed when I couldn’t keep my eyes open a moment longer.
On Saturday I did the rest, and my guests began to trickle in. We had coffee and pecan bars, then they helped me stuff the turkey and build a bench from IKEA so there would be enough seating. More guests arrived and it was time for lunch: a nice pumpkin soup with homemade herb bread and the spicy salami my guests from Calabria had brought with them.
And after that it was a whirlwind of turkey and sightseeing (Bellini and Palladio) and gravy and cranberry sauce, the oven going all the time, except when we had to shut it off to use another appliance, because I can only have one thing going at a time or the power goes out.
More guests arrived with yet more food and wine and there was so much talking and laughter that the next morning I woke up hoarse and my voice still hasn’t come back.
It was a good Thanksgiving. A very good Thanksgiving. And Sunday, when we all woke up, we had a pancake breakfast, plus leftover apple pie, which everyone referred to as “strudel.” By Sunday I had stopped correcting them. There was bustle, there was cheer. “This is like a mini-Christmas!” a few of my guests noted.
Then there was more sightseeing before we came back home for a dinner of leftovers, this time with my children.
I took the last of my guests to the train station this morning, ate the rest of the pumpkin pie by myself in an eerily quiet kitchen, and decided that today, after we get back from school, we will put up our tree and decorate for Christmas.
We might need some more sugar cookies too.