Thanksgiving in Warsaw
As an American holiday, Thanksgiving is not typically celebrated in Poland.
I spent the day reminiscing about Thanksgivings past: as a little kid at my Grandma’s house, as a teenager at my parents’ house, as a newlywed at the house of friends of my in-laws’, and as an adult living in Morocco. In each instance, my memory of who was there and my favorite foods remain strong.
This year, The Husband and I decided we should celebrate Thanksgiving in Poland too. Because people don’t have the day off here, we decided to have our meal on Friday night instead, and invited over the handful of people we know here. We weren’t serving many traditional foods, but we wanted to share what we could of this American holiday with our Polish friends, and I think we succeeded.
Going through the process of planning a menu and shopping for food was interesting. I had my first Thanksgiving abroad last year, but the scene inside our Fulbright director’s home could have been in Anytown, USA; we had beautiful pumpkin and pecan pies, fresh whipped cream, some really luscious corn pudding, and for those who were eating it, a big turkey. Our director’s shopping rights at the commissary, as well as gathering so many resourceful individuals in one place, resulted in the Fulbright ETA Thanksgiving Gathering of 2010 in Rabat being something straight out of our collective holiday memory.
Planning for 2011 was a little different, however. I’ve never made a turkey before, nor just about any kind of meat dish. I’m vegetarian and The Husband only eats humanely raised creatures, so meat doesn’t really have a place in our home. And honestly, most Thanksgiving-related dishes don’t interest me much. I would have been perfectly happy serving only mashed potatoes and green beans. I like a small sliver of pumpkin pie now and then, but in order to have pumpkin pie here, you must make everything from scratch. I didn’t want to subject my guests to my first attempt at making one, especially when our kitchen came equipped with zero measuring devices.
At the end of the night, I think everyone left with a full stomach, having enjoyed our 2011 Thanksgiving meal of: pear & blue cheese bruschetta, green salad, mushroom soup, quinoa-stuffed peppers, mashed potatoes, green beans, a spinach and feta tart and Polish-style cheese cake with cranberry sauce and apple cake for dessert.
We had lots of leftovers too, which means we are happily partaking in another Thanksgiving tradition – feasting on leftovers for days.
I had a happy Thanksgiving here, although the holiday reminded me of how much I miss the people I couldn’t be with this year. Thankfully, having Skype and awesome internet allowed me to talk with a few family members. I also spent much of the day in awe of just how much I have to be thankful for, especially at the end of the night when I received an email effectively hiring me to teach at one of the universities here in Warsaw.
This year’s Thanksgiving will be remembered as another special one, and I’m grateful for everyone, in your various corners of the world, who helped to make it great. Dziękuję bardzo i dobranoc.