thanksgiving in hungary

it’s ten a.m. sunday morning and i’m rushing back from the market with two bags loaded with goodies- enough to feed a party of sixteen. back at home i’m immediately greeted with warm smells of cooking and the bustling sounds of preparation. ben’s got several turkey breasts and two whole chickens (the only whole turkey we could get our hands on weighed 23kg which wouldn’t quite fit in our oven) roasting, carrot-ginger soup warming, and salad in the works, andi is graciously cleaning the apartment, and the kitchen is strewn with half-baked pies. a plate of chocolate chip cookies sits cooling on a side table. fast-forward a few hours and we’ve been joined by andi’s sister nora. between the four of us, we’re practically climbing over one another in the tiny kitchen to tackle the potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, lemon meringue pie, cheesecake, and roasted chestnuts (for topping on the pumpkin pie, which is really squash and not at all pumpkin but we think the hungarians won’t know the difference).

by the time the first of the guests arrive, we haven’t begun to rearrange furniture to accomodate them all. i happily delegate this task to etienne while i continue mashing potatoes. etienne is a wiz and transforms the apartment- we’ve now got a side bar overflowing with wine, champagne, and juice brought by various wonderful people, we’ve got a circle of guests comfortably chatting away in the living room, a few shelling chestnuts in the kitchen, and lots of food on the way.

thanks to the master chef, dinner is amazing. we calmly explain what stuffing is, and why cranberry sauce comes in such a funny shape, and what you’re supposed to do with gravy. dessert disappears soon after with much applause, and conversation relaxes, floating between english, hungarian, and french. i give a little speech about what thanksgiving is, say thank you to all for coming and for making my time here in this country so special. pictures are taken. people filter home and dishes are cleaned (without michael jackson, to my dismay, but we did do some dancing!). and in the end, it wasn’t so different from thanksgiving at home. the food, the smells, the sounds, the bustle, the catching up with those you haven’t seen in a while, and the big smile on my face the whole time.

thank you to all those who came, all those who cooked, all those who cleaned, all those who brought food and wine and chairs, and all those who searched at length for an enormous bird. you made thanksgiving very special to me this year.

jessica andi the gang

~ by aliciawolcott on November 26, 2006.

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