For many, moving to a foreign country is a challenge during the holidays. I haven’t had Thanksgiving with my parents since I left the house at 18 to go to University. Those first Thanksgivings were sad for me. So if you are feeling a bit blue and don’t know how or if you want to celebrate this day of giving thanks. I have a few recommendations and tips.
First things first, share your tradition. Your closest family and friends might not be here so take this opportunity to invite new friends and people you would like to get to know. Non-Americans are curious about Thanksgiving. This is a great ice breaker. Over the years our international affair has included Swiss, French, Canadian, Turkish, Australian and Eritrean friends at our table.
Secondly, embrace the food challenge and take advantage of living in a country where the pumpkins, onions, root vegetables, chestnuts and turkeys are mostly grown/raised within a 50 mile radius.
And lastly, don’t worry about food. You can find everything you need here in Switzerland and your meal will be healthier than ever.
Every Thanksgiving needs its Turkey, or in French it’s called a Dinde. Ovens are smaller in Europe so remember your turkey needs to be smaller, too. Your Migros, Coops and Manors are starting to stock fresh Turkeys around Thanksgiving but they may not be the size you want. I order mine a week in advance. I often hear complaints about the price but without going into much detail, Swiss turkeys are fresh and not pumped full of salt water like many US brands.
Cranberries are already available at the Migros. My favorite relish recipe which includes dried figs (typical of France) and Port (from Portugal) is from Bon Appetit November 2001 magazine here. Sweet Potatoes (not indigenous to Europe) can usually be found at all the grocery stores but probably cheaper at Turkish or North African city markets. My friend Cece made the best ever sweet potato dish. I wouldn’t dare share her recipe without her permission but I found it in an old blog called Sweet Potato… Something.
Another traditional dish is green been casserole. Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup can often be found at Coop and, dare I say, always at the American Food Avenue in Cologny; and I have found the fried onion sprinkles at the American Food Avenue as well as at Ikea.
Lastly, your pumpkin pie. I have discovered delicious pumpkin pie recipes using fresh pumpkins; the Potimarron pumpkin is probably the best since it is meaty without much liquid. My favorite recipe which I cannot find on the internet is Cranks’ Pumpkin Pie from their 1996 recipe book which makes a pumpkin custard with egg yolks and cream but then whips in the egg whites for fluffiness while spiced with cardamom seeds.
Whatever your tradition, I wish you happiness and good health.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website athttp://www.aiwcgeneva.org/