After 4 years living in Italy without a sign of Thanksgiving around me, I finally took it upon myself to buy a bird and spent 2 days preparing a typical turkey feast for my Italian family (four adults, two kids), which was enjoyed by all with tremendous gusto. We chose to celebrate today, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, as of course nobody is off on Thursday. It was the first time in many years that I made a turkey and all the trimmings, and although I thought I would have forgotten how to make the perfect stuffing, it came right back to me in a flash. What fun, and at the same time how strange it was to prepare for Thanksgiving in this setting.
Nicoletta, (a thoroughbred Fiorentina) and I collaborated on the menu the week before. We decided that no Thanksgiving among Italians could ever succeed without a primo piatto di pasta. While brainstorming on the pasta, her eyes lit up as she declared "penne al cavolo nero"! (A typical Florentine pasta dish made with black cabbage). It was exquisite and complemented the meal perfectly.
The secondo piatto and all the trimmings were foreign to them. Not understanding what turkey "stuffing" is, I explained it by calling it "Panzanella Americana" and then it clicked! They never had turkey gravy before (it was rich with pan drippings....the best I've ever made...this time the roux was perfect). They loved it! I got a kick out of how crazy they went over the cranberry sauce (which I spent 2 days hunting down and spent a fortune for)....they practically licked it off the plate and and asked to take home the leftover berries.
It was especially fun explaining the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower to them and sharing the history of our greatest American holiday. The kids soaked it right up and asked alot of questions about the Indians. They were star struck. I led the meal by having everyone hold hands and said a prayer of thanks....it was very emotional.
The kids are amazing in the kitchen, just like at their house. Setting, unsetting the table and following me all over the kitchen asking me what they could do next. What a great day. Roasted chestnuts, fruit and Nicoletta's masterpiece tiramisu, topped off a very nostalgic day as little 7 yr. old Costanza performed for us all on the violincello.
This was a momentous day for me. After 4 years spent making Florence my home, I'm able to look back on my American life with a lifetime of memories, and am now able to integrate my past and my present in a new and meaningful way. It marked another new Italian/American tradition that will be the first of many to come, spent with a precious family that has become mine. I am so grateful on this day of Thanks.