Sandy and I think Thanksgiving might be our favorite holiday. It means spending time with family and friends, watching football, and not being ashamed of wearing elastic band pants to the table to ensure maximum eating capacity.
Not wanting this Thanksgiving to pass by uncelebrated, we started planning months and months ago. We extended invitations to friends and booked our favorite house on the lake. In the end, out of 17 people, there were only four Americans. Jen, from Vermont, Sandy and I took over most of the cooking, which resulted in an infusion of Southern Thanksgiving traditions (there were, for example, three separate sweet potato dishes.)
The big issue was the turkey. In Malawi, there are chickens everywhere, and I mean everywhere, but very few turkeys. A few months ago, Jen made a plea at her staff meeting for turkeys. Two were located at a small farm over an hour from Blantyre. Her colleague arranged to get the turkeys and keep them at his place until last week. The colleague also generously offered to kill and dress the turkeys for her. Thank goodness. So in the end, we had two very fresh, organic, free range turkeys at our table.
I am not known for my culinary skills. Eating, yes, but actually cooking – not so much. But, by some Thanksgiving miracle (and Sandy’s close supervision) my dishes came out fine and everyone approved.
The rest of the dishes were traditional: mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, green bean casserole, wild rice, sweet potato casserole, savory thyme sweet potatoes, two types of stuffing, sherry gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, etc. And that was just the dinner. Perhaps even more exciting was the dessert: apple cinnamon cheesecake, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and sweet potato pie. The two chefs who work at the house helped out so much – they seemed fascinated by the strange spread of dishes, but also seemed to enjoy everything.
The rest of the weekend was spent swimming in the lake, drinking gin and tonics on the beach, playing football, and relaxing. While very fun, it was strange to be celebrating Thanksgiving in the tropical 90 degree heat.
All of the non-Americans were great sports. They tried every dish and gave the appropriate “mmmm!” sounds. They even participated when we all went around and said what we were thankful for…
This Thanksgiving, we are thankful to have such amazing friends in Malawi to share the holiday, so thankful for wonderful friends and family back home who continually love and support us, and thankful to be in this beautiful county, surrounded by the warmest, friendliest people in Africa! Much love to all of our family and friends – we miss you and wish you a very very Happy Thanksgiving!