Monday, November 29, 2010

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Japan

This year was our first year without a friend or family member from the States joining us for Thanksgiving dinner.  Every year, our neighborhood club hosts a Thanksgiving dinner party for all the local foreigners.  This year, we attended for our first time and it was very nice and made being far away from home seem not so far.  The friends you meet here become your family for the time you are here, you share most holidays with them and it is nice to be able to celebrate in a way similar to back at home.  The Japanese chef prepared a nice spread of Thanksgiving type fare- there was turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, bread, and then some untraditional fare such as ham and pasta.  This was a fancy turkey, check out the paper caps on the legs, I only see those in movies that take place in fancy restaurants.

Here's the gang before dinner, excited to be there and in their fancy clothes.

Even though we attended the party, we still decided to have our own Thanksgiving as a family at our home.  We invited over another family from our neighborhood that was celebrating their first Thanksgiving overseas and a Japanese family we are friendly with (can you believe they never had turkey before?- they can't believe I've never eaten octopus :).

For dinner, we had turkey, carrots, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and rolls.  I think I am most thankful that this will be our last year having to buy a frozen turkey from a major wholesale grocer and keeping it in our freezer for over 2 months before the holiday in fear we wouldn't find another one.  I can't wait to be able to buy a fresh one next year, maybe I'll actually get some juice in the pan.  Here's an example of what the turkey looks like:

Having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner here requires some planning, if you want to have things like they were back home that is.  For example, we have to have cheesecake for dessert, lemon jell-o is a key ingredient- that comes back in the summer in our suitcase.  I needed graham crackers for the crust, which are very very hard to find here, so that required some strategical planning to visit all the local foreign grocers over and over again.  Of course good rolls are just hard to come by here, so we had to make homemade, which I'd prefer anywhere I live anyways.

For the rolls, both Dave and I made a batch of different types, both equally delicious.  I made Parker House (they were invented in Boston- had to make them) and he made butter twists.  Here's a picture I snapped of his:

One great thing about spending Thanksgiving here is when you realize you run out of an ingredient or forgot to buy something, the stores are OPEN!!!  Of course, I had forgotten to get the baguette for our homemade stuffing, so luckily, we could just run to the store and get some.  Another nice thing is there is no temptation to go battle the crowds for black Friday the next morning since it doesn't exist here.

For dessert, we had apple pie, chocolate pudding pie, cheesecake, peppermint ice cream pie, and a newbie for us, spiced turkey cookies.

These were a HUGE hit with the kids and much easier to make than pie ;)  I made royal icing for my first time, but that was very tedious and time consuming to apply.  I still prefer a normal vanilla cake icing on the cookies, but the kids were gaga for these little guys (maybe because they were personalized) and gobbled them right up.

Happy late Thanksgiving everyone!