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November 27, 2008 Thanksgiving Day

I know a lot of people dream of a white Christmas, but this year I got a White Thanksgiving. :) [Note: Recipes for all of this are available upon request…just drop a note in the “comment” box or email me.]

…and there’s so much to be grateful for!

We prepared a full Thanksgiving feast. Except that we didn’t have a turkey. Turkeys are available for sale in SouqTown, and we’d asked the guests coming in this morning from down there to bring us one, but they decided that even the smallest turkey wouldn’t fit in either my or Fatima’s oven (which we knew – we were planning to cut it in half and cook half in each house), so they brought us chicken, instead. Due to the small size of our casserole dishes, we still ended up cooking the chicken in two batches, and therefore two recipes. One was a Mediterranean recipe with olives and lemons; the other was a more traditional American roast chicken.

Also, though I checked every stall in Berberville’s little souq and SouqTown’s much larger daily souq and its ginormous weekly souq, there were no sweet potatoes to be had. I saw them in the markets last month, and was looking forward to having them for Thanksgiving, but apparently their season has completely passed. :(

But enough on what we didn’t have.

There were mountains of mashed potatoes - 7 kilos of potatoes, peeled by yours truly and “Brahim”, with sour cream*, milk, butter, salt, parsley, and garlic. There was a kettle-full of sweet corn, flavored only with butter, salt, and pepper. There were shredded carrots in orange juice with cinnamon. (Those were popular in my CBT village, so I figured the folks here would like them, too.) There were crudités of carrots, peppers, and cauliflower in ranch dip and French onion dip, courtesy of Lipton and Knorr soup packets from the US, combined with sour cream*. There was from-scratch stuffing, with bread crumbs, onions, peppers, chicken bullion, salt, garlic, oregano, basil, and something I’m forgetting. There was banana bread, brought up the mountain by “RaHma”. There were heavenly drop biscuits, courtesy of wonder-baker “Jamila”.

…plus the acres of desserts cooked up yesterday.

“Fatima” and I had invited all 12 PCVs in the region, plus our host families and some of the Moroccans we work with here in town. (We also invited the Peace Corps Country Director, but he had other plans.) We ended up with 8 Americans and 10 Moroccans (my host mom, sis, and both brothers; “Fatima’s” host mom and two brothers, one of the women Fatima works with, plus two English teachers from the collège and lycée). Crowded into Fatima’s small living room. It was squished, but fabulous.

After the non-English-speaking Moroccans had gone home, we went around and said what we were thankful for, always my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Most of us said variations on “Friends and family”. I gave gratitude for my American family, of Mom, Dad, Sis, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and dear friends, and my Moroccan family, by which I meant both my host family and my Peace Corps family. I love you guys!

The 8 Americans’ sleeping arrangements were evenly divided between Fatima’s house and mine. Well, not that even; I got the girls and stuck her with the boys. :) As the four of us walked back to my house, we found that the snow-and-mud had frozen into a nice solid dirt path, but more snow was falling. Not much – not even enough to really qualify as a “flurry” – just a few flakes drifting downwards to make our walk home lovely. Well, lovely and cold. The girls visiting from warmer climates have apparently adopted the slow-and-easy style of walking common in the American South and other sultry climes, so the two cold-weather-speed-walkers kept having to stop and wait for them. They kept reminding each other that their sites would probably get almost this chilly, in the bitter bottom of January, so if they could live through the night, they’d have nothing to worry about for the rest of the season.

When I got home, I checked the thermometer and discovered that the flakes were falling in 25° skies, and that it was a whopping 33° inside. Of the three girls staying with me, two ended up inside sleeping bags and under two layers of blankets, and the third—the one most susceptible to cold—burrowed under my feather comforter with me. Oh, and the two warm-weather-women both took the first ride back down the mountain in the morning. :) And I’m sure they were thankful for that, too. :D

* When I say “sour cream”, I’m actually referring to a variety of yogurt available here, that’s all-natural, no sweeteners, no flavorings, no nuthin’, and which tastes more or less exactly like sour cream. It’s available in SouqTown, though not Berberville, under the name danun imsus. “Danun” is a reference to Dannon brand yogurt, whose name has become generalized here the way “Kleenex” and “Xerox” have in the US, and “imsus” means “flavorless”. And to continue this tangent even further afield, other brands have been generalized, too. “Teed” means Tide which means laundry detergent. “Beek” means Bic which means razors and their blades. “Alwaiss” means Always which means feminine supplies. “Kuh-nor” means Knorr which means chicken bullion cubes. Moral of the story: if you don’t know the word for what you want, take a stab an at American brand name, with an Arabic/Berber pronunciation. :)

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