Friday, November 23, 2012

Cyprus style Thanksgiving

After I had written yesterday's post about Thanksgiving preparation, I baked the bread rolls - which turned out fine, if a little small - and made something approximating to a Greek salad:

Chopped lettuce and cabbage at the bottom, chopped cucumber and feta in the middle, a sliced tomato around the edge. It could hardly be simpler. 

Then I prepared the french beans, brussels sprouts and cauliflower to cook in my electric steamer:

Unfortunately, although I remembered to plug it in and switch on at the wall at about ten to six, it took another ten minutes before I realised that I hadn't also switched on the appliance itself. And it should really have been earlier still. I use it so rarely at this capacity that I forget just how long it takes to steam three tiers of veggies. I moved the cauliflower to a pan on the stove when I realised it was not going to get cooked in time, and that was fine. The beans were okay, if a little crunchy, and the brussels sprouts were far too hard. Oh well. 

I also cut up mushrooms and tomatoes, sprinkling the latter with garlic and basil, to put in the oven to bake:

Also in the oven went the previously prepared stuffing, mashed potato and some stuffed peppers I'd made and frozen some time beforehand. Carrots went on the stove in a little margarine and brown sugar to steam, sweetcorn with a bit of red pepper in the microwave. 

By 6.30 our guests had arrived and everything was ready (well, other than the brussels sprouts). I'd found a tablecloth that had the right kind of colours on it, and we used our brown Autumnal crockery.  Joan counted sixteen kinds of food in all, including the meat and devilled eggs she had brought:  

When we had all eaten our fill - and there was quite a bit left over - we brought out desserts. Very simple by US standards: just one pie, which Joan had made, using a delicious Dutch apple pie recipe. I had thawed some stewed plums and made some more yogurt, and had also put out a platter of dehydrated fruit - and some Fair Trade 'chocos':

It was, of course, quite a mixture of cultures. The turkey, stuffing, mashed potato and apple pie were certainly typical US fare for Thanksgiving, as was the variety of vegetables, although not necessarily the ones I had chosen; I opted for ones that looked good quality and which were in season. The halloumi and Greek salad were typically Cypriot and I suppose the Cadbury 'chocos' and the stewed plums were typically British (although I didn't add any sugar).  

Mark and Joan were the only Americans present - the only ones for whom Thanksgiving is a deeply ingrained custom. Still, Richard and I did live in the US for a couple of years, back in the early 1990s, and have celebrated this feast several times over the years; we grew up with the slightly outdated concept of harvest festival - a little out of place in cities where nothing much is harvested.  

Thanksgiving pulls together the thankfulness part of harvest festival, and demonstrates the immense bounty of local produce.  The one thing it lacks is giving part of what we have to those in need. I did feel a momentary guilt at having such a loaded table.. we have so much already. But nothing is wasted: we ate leftovers today, and will continue to do so until they're all gone. 

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