Thanksgiving in London

PB261176I’d be lying if I said Ididn’t have visions of my first Thanskgiving away from America looking something like a sad American chewing through one of Pret’s Christmas lunch sandwiches just to get my fill of turkey and cranberries. But because the company I work for so kindly offered to host a Thanksgiving lunch in the office, I enjoyed all the typical turkey day fixings, surrounded by good company, and the best part: I didn’t have to do the dishes for a family get together of about 20 people!

Now that I’ve experienced my first Thanksgiving in England, I’ve realised no one outside the borders of the U.S. understands this holiday. The most common comments I got from friends in London were along the lines of “Don’t you get sick of having the same turkey dinner twice in the same month?” and “So, it’s like Christmas, just without presents?”

That’s the beauty of it, you see. The purpose of Thanksgiving is to have a few days off work, and do nothing but eat and drink. No presents, no build up, no parties thrown by friends, colleagues, people you don’t want to see but feel like you should (’tis the season and all that) – just good food shared at a table with family and, as we were always taught as kids, a day to be thankful for all of these things.

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In fact, Americans are so excited by the first few days of work in months, that the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is always the biggest night in alcohol sales for bars across the country!

So what is a typical Thanksgiving feast? Well, for starters there’s always a turkey.  Then there’s all the sides – bread, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (sometimes turned into more of a dessert with marshmallows baked over the top), green bean casserole made with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions (my fave), stuffing, cranberries, and usually some random other items in my house like a large salad (in my mom’s house, there is a large salad involved with every meal. no matter what) and corn soufle (also should be classified as a dessert).

We pack up our plates, stuff our faces, go for round two, and then, just as we’re getting to the point of real discomfort, comes the pumpkin pie. A light mousse like filling which tastes of pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon, with a large dollop of whipped cream – this is the epitome of Thanksgiving Day.

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From there, the family retreats to the couch for a nap, only to be digging into the leftovers to make turkey sandwiches and eat more pie before the night comes to and end. And there you have it, it’s over, done and dusted. One day of eating complete. The next day marks the first appropriate day in the U.S. to start celebrating Christmas, and just like that, Thanksgiving is forgotten until next year.

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And as for the big turkey dinner twice in one month – in America a ‘roast dinner’ is pretty rare. We don’t do it on Sundays as a ritual like it’s done in the UK – so actually, no,  I don’t think anyone is annoyed by a huge roast dinner twice in one month.

PB261196My Thanksgiving lunch this year was catered for our office by Beas of Bloomsbury, who delivered a seriously impressive spread, which I would highly recommend to any Americans next year. They delivered turkey sandwiches made with stuffing and cranberries, the most delicious sweet potatoes, a green bean salad, salad with goats cheese, butternut squash and pumpkin seeds, and the two most perfect and whipped-cream-loaded pumpkin pies this girl has ever seen.

We also had some pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting by Molly Bakes - her cakes look almost too good to eat!

Combined with the efforts of some of my colleagues who made potato salad, fruit salad, provided a cheese board and other lovely desserts, it was a great meal which tasted like home, and I was thankful for that!

4 comments

  1. We missed you,Libby but after reading this, I’m so happy to know you are surrounded by caring people at work (and what a delicious looking meal). Can’t wait to get a Christmas hug…..see you soon…love and kisses

  2. 3 things…
    1) No salad at thanksgiving.
    2) Mom wants to cancel the green bean casserole.
    3) Yet again she claims we never have corn souffle at thanksgiving so that was absent as well.

    Mom tries to be sneaky when you are not here to regulate.

  3. Hil – that is unbelievable. can’t believe you didn’t have the corn souffle. I definitely need to be there to regulate.

    Lizzie – some do turkey at Christmas, but Christmas food is much less traditional in America. Thanksgiving is always the same, for the most part, in every household. But for Christmas it might be a big ham, or a turkey, or both, or not at all. For quite a few years my family ate a big bowl of homemade chili on Christmas day, and my best friends family does steak and eggs… so actually is not really a repeat dinner kind of thing!

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