On Thursday, I introduced the beloved holiday of Thanksgiving to my Danish family. The whole time I’ve been in Denmark, I’ve gotten to participate in countless Danish traditions and it was so much fun to be able to share one of mine for a change. Go America!
So I’ll be honest and say that I was completely terrified to take on this task. I realized that as soon as I said, “We should totally have a Thanksgiving dinner and I’ll cook it all,” that I should have kept my mouth shut. If you know anything about my family or happen to read the Becker Citizen, where I’ve published all the Miller Family secrets, then you’ll that in our household, we have never used the words “gourmet” and “cooking” in the same sentence. Actually, we may have never even used “good” and “cooking” in the same sentence. I’m just going to say it: my mom is handicapped in the kitchen. She even made it to the second round of auditions for “America’s Worst Cook,” when she applied this summer. (Personally, I think my writing skills gave her a boost since I wrote her entire application pretending I was her.) Anyways, since my mom can’t cooked, I never learned. And thus, I am also kitchen handicapped. My Danish family makes (asks) me to cook once a week and these are just a few of the questions I have asked them while in the kitchen: How do you cut an onion? How do you boil rice? How do you know when spaghetti is done? (Ummmm, taste it?) So you can see my anxiety about this Thanksgiving dinner I threw out on the table, then?
What happened you ask? Did I drop the turkey? Did I poison everyone? Surprisingly, no! Thanksgiving (Hannah style) was a big giant success of a meal. I might even go as far to say that it was one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I have ever eaten.
My host mom, Lise, and I went shopping at three different grocery stores to buy what we needed and we still didn’t find it all. The Danes do no eat Thanksgiving type food and thus do not carry the things we take for granted when cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of cream of mushroom soup, we used a pouch of actual mushroom soup. Instead of cream creamed corn for the scalloped corn, we made the creamed corn completely from scratch. Instead of stuffing in a bag, we toasted our own bread in the oven. Sorry if any on my extended family is reading this, but sometimes the stuffing can be dry and the one I made was perfectly not dry. I think I’m officially going to be the new “Stuffing Girl” at all future Thanksgivings! The big thing that that Danish grocery stores do not carry is pumpkin pie filling. Oh no! I watched my host mom ask many grocery stores employees if they carried it and I couldn’t understand their Danish, but by their obviously confused facial expressions, pumpkin pie in a can is a mystery. So, Lise bought a pumpkin, cut it open and went to town.
Brian and Lise making the turkey perfect
This was the final menu for the night:
Scalloped Corn with Bacon: A huge hit with my three Danish grandparents and great-aunt who came to the celebration.
Candied Sweet Potatoes: This was the dish that everyone was the most confused about when I was cooking it, but in the end, they loved it! Marshmallows taste good on anything. Duh.
This little guy got so many weird stares
Green Bean Casserole: My personal favorite and the dish my mom usually brings to our Thanksgiving. Dumping a can of cream of mushroom over a can of green beans is something that even she can’t fail at.
Hannah’s Spændende Stuffing: For those who don’t happen to be one of the lucky 5.5 million people who speak Danish in the world, spændende means exciting.
Turkey: Since Danish ovens are pretty small, we had to cook the turkey on the grill for the half the time which is something that I’ve never heard of before. It turns out that half-oven baked and half-grilled turkey is the best turkey. Seriously.
Look at this masterpiece!
Creamy Mashed Potatoes: These special potatoes had cream cheese and sour cream in them. My host sister, Sine, ate at least two pounds of this stuff by herself. Go Sine!
Homemade Pumpkin Pie: My host mom would like to add that if she would have made the crust from scratch, it would have been much better. I agree, but it was pretty dang good anyways.
Sparkling Cranberry Cocktail: Instead of cranberry sauce, which I’ve never really liked that much, we made a welcome drink with cranberry juice and Fax Kondi (the Danish version of Sprite). Yummy!
I made my sisters come search outside for leaves and twigs for the centerpiece.
While the food was amazing, it wasn’t my favorite part of Thanksgiving in Denmark. Before dinner, I introduced my Danish family to a tradition that my family at home always does. We went around the table and said what we were most thankful for. This ended up being a lot more emotional than my normal Thanksgiving. I think it hit us all for the first time that I was leaving Denmark very soon. Now the rule is that nobody is allowed to mention my leaving and if they do, I either tell them to stop talking or I put my hands over my ears.
All in all, Thanksgiving in Denmark wasn’t quite the same as Thanksgiving in the States. Tony wasn’t throwing routes to me in the fresh snow. Jake wasn’t continually poking me under the dinner table causing me to throw a necessary scene in the middle of dinner. My Dad wasn’t there to save me the turkey gizzard (and my brothers weren’t there to steal it from me when I wasn’t looking). And my Mom, she wasn’t there to wake-up at midnight with me for Caribou Coffee and Black Friday shopping. But my Danish family was there instead and even though Thanksgiving was a little different than usually, it was equally as fun, delicious and full of love.
Family photo hour!
I love my crazy sisters
Stef On Stuff
I never realized how much I liked Thanksgiving (and America in general) until I uprooted to Spain for three months.
Now, I’m missing the huge family gathering at my house and I’m really sad about it. My brother even brought home a friend named Stephanie who is probably sleeping in my bed. I have been utterly replaced. Mostly, I’m dreaming of cranberries, beating myself up for not having my parents bring a can. Cranberries are native to America. As is Thanksgiving.
Also, I completely forgot I even wrote anything about Thanksgiving on this blog until Her Campus re-posted – they also present the occasional Stef on Stuff highlights.
So, my dear friends, it’s time to give thanks.
Thanks, family, for sending me on the most amazing semester-long learning experience. Thanks, host parents, for making this a most cultural experience in the best way possible – even though you fed me shark. Thanks, Spain, for teaching me a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” way of life, that beer sometimes tastes good, and that learning outside class is what counts most. Thanks, Courtney, for putting up with my keyboard clattering at one a.m. and general lack of bedmaking.
Thanks, Ryanair, for flying me all around Europe for pocket change. Thanks, Judith’s family for Shabbat dinner in Paris. Thanks, Julie, for a quality Yom Kippur weekend in Barcelona. Thanks, monkeys in Gibraltar, for being so cute. Thanks, summer job, for paying for all of this spending.
Thanks, CurvesNervion for motivating me to wear sneakers for consecutive days. Thanks, film professor for letting me show up an hour late to 9AM class and not minding at all. Thanks, Calle Betis, for the free sangria on Thursday nights and the sweet American songs on the overhead speakers.
Thanks, you reading this, for vicariously living through me/making me feel so popular – almost at 5000 views! But actually – recording and sharing snippets of my semester through this blog has helped me connect with you all over the world and reflect on all of the things I’m so grateful for.
Most of all, thanks, Sevilla. I am the quintessential study abroad student. I love this city, I love this country, I love these friends, I love this learning, I love this life.
Sevilla’s slogan is “No me ha dejado” – Sevilla has never left me.
It’s cheesy, it’s lame, but I’m going to say it anyway:
Though I’m leaving Sevilla so soon, the city will never leave me. I may have to give up siesta and sunshine, but I won’t give up the ‘no pasa nada’ spirit.
For that, I am thankful in so many new ways. And I’ll get over missing the cranberries. Maybe.