Thanksgiving Flights of Fancy

By the time Thanksgiving comes around every year, I have undoubtedly been “talking turkey,” if you will, for months already. Planning Thanksgiving celebrations for our clients are usually in full swing by early October.  By the fourth Thursday in November, I am usually looking for a new Thanksgiving story to experience.  What’s a globally-inspired gal to do?  Well, hop on a plane, of course!

Over the years, Thanksgiving flights of fancy have taken us to many different ports. A couple of years ago, Michael and I found ourselves in France enjoying dinner with friends and family in a Paris apartment with view of Eiffel Tower! Last year, with my youngest daughter studying in Rome for the semester, we found ourselves abroad once again, and I was charged with cooking  for  20+ American friends, family, and friends of family en Italia.

My immediate task, after landing, was to find the turkey. (Thank you, daughter Remy, for pre-ordering the “tacino” from your friendly neighborhood butcher!) Next up, locate the rest of the (almost) traditional provisions, Italian Style, the morning of Thanksgiving from the ancient Testaccio Market. There is nothing better than to spend the day as a local, doing errands, and immersing one’s self in a foreign culture, all at once!

Tacino (turkey) Italia

Then we tucked in for the afternoon, in a 6 x 8 foot kitchen, and turned out a traditional American meal.  Turkey, rubbed with oregano and olive oil, stuffing with crusty Italian bread and studded with some not-so-traditional brine-y olives, amazingly tender and crisp green beans tossed with parmesan and red pepper flakes.

We gathered around a table set with golden  linens we found at the outdoor market plus “spontaneous” DIY napkin rings crafted out of foil (!) Folding chairs were begged and borrowed from Italian neighbors who wondered what the “matta” Americans were doing now!?!

As we sat around our little table of ex-Pats and visitors, I thought to myself that the spirit of Thanksgiving could transcend any border.

This year, back in Chicago, I am missing last year’s cozy Italian meal. Luckily, I had the good foresight to have married an Italian man, who will recreate some of our favorite moments of our meal…enhancing the turkey with with garlic, oregano, and rosemarino. After some mild and loving negotiation, we have agreed  to greet guests with a Spritz of Prosecco and Aperol, and some starters of mini crostadas of gorgonzola and cranberry chutney. We’ll lay out some easily assembled salumi, cheeses, mustards and breads.

(Hopefully one of our handy guests will volunteer for this job.) In the meantime I’ll be basting the turkey,
making the brussels sprouts and finishing them with crisp, garlic breadcrumbs and making a lovely farro to which I will add fennel and carrots and sauteeing the sweet Italian sausage which I’ve procured from Bari Foods which will be added to give the stuffing that touch of “bravissimo”!

I haven’t decided how to sneak some pumpkin in yet but early thoughts include pumpkin risotto cakes and pumpkin filled tortellini sauteed in brown butter sage sauce. By the time we get to the Vin Santo, later in the evening, I hope to be hearing a toast to “Cent Anni” and thinking that means about 50 more Thanksgiving Flights of Fancy!