International Thanksgiving Dinner: Spending Thanksgiving in Italy With New Friends by Sheri B Doyle
“Si, due tacchini.” (Yes, two turkeys.) I was confirming my order of two turkeys with the Italian butcher around the corner from my apartment for my International Thanksgiving Dinner.
Since moving to Italy my husband and I had made some good friends. We wanted to share a Thanksgiving dinner with our new friends. The group would be made up of six Americans, two Brits, two Aussies and two Italians. The goal was to be as authentic as possible. This meant friends bringing canned green beans from America on a visit a few months before, other friends bringing sweet potatoes from Switzerland and two of our friends bringing fried onions, pumpkin, mushroom soup and marshmallows from the Army base in Northern Italy. The rest I would get in the local markets or make from scratch.
When we called our Italian friends to invite them there were two objections: the first was to eating dinner before 8. It just wasn’t done, so we compromised and set the time for 7. The second issue was how it was possible to have a holiday meal (or really any meal) without pasta. Once we explained the traditional food, they agreed to give it a try.
Thanksgiving evening everyone climbed the 67 steps to our apartment and settled in for the evening. We opened bottles of prosecco, handed out our homemade Indian and Pilgrim hats, a last-minute practical joke we convinced everyone to wear as part of the American tradition, and discussed the tradition of Thanksgiving. Soon, bottles of wine were opened and the meal was served.
After many explanations of what the food was, and overcoming the reservation of our Italian friends about the sweet potatoes, we spent the rest of the evening eating, laughing and drinking. It was magical as the cultures blended at the large table in our apartment. The night turned into the morning. It was 3 a.m. when we all decided it was time to call it a night.
After everyone left I sat down, letting the joy of Thanksgiving sink in. The large table, now filled with bottles of prosecco, wine and limoncello, had served as the perfect place for new friends to gather and give thanks together. What started as our chance to introduce our friends to an American tradition turned into all of us making beautiful memories we will never forget.
As I got ready for bed, I realized that is really what Thanksgiving is all about.