30 November 2009

Turkey Day . . . In Spain?

One might ask how Katie Clayton, an American living in Spain, would spend such a classic holiday? Well it actually became a two day celebration. On Thursday, my program had a fancy dinner at a Spanish restaurant called Casa Adolfo. We had croquetas (deep fried cheese and alfredo sauce balls), pisto (veggie ratatouille), ensalada mixta (salad but with strange Spanish things in it like corn and white asparagus), grilled veggies (my fav), and berenjena frita (thinlly sliced, deep fried eggplant). It was delicious and all vegetarian friendly!

In case I haven't told you yet, I became an official vegetarian in Spain. It really hasn't changed my daily eating habits all that much, but whenever I've eaten meat here I just didn't feel good afterword and frankly I don't really like the taste although at first I intended to still eat fish. I even jokingly told my parents that I was the only vegetarian who stopped eating meat because I hated farm animals so much. When I was little my cousins used to throw chickens at me, and I think it caused a general fear and annoyance with farm animals in general. Anyway I was bored one day and wanted to know how not eating meat helped the environment, so somehow I ended up on the PIDA website. Big mistake. I now no longer eat any meat including fish. After 10 minutes of those disgusting videos I was done. So the point of that long tirade was that I'm now a vegetarian so I really appreciated the delicious veggie based appetizers.

Then I had an entree of spinach with raisins and pine nuts, and rice. I mean I like spinach as much as the next girl, but a whole entree of spinach was a bit much. But it was so fun to get to hang out with my fellow students. 

I was a little sad though to not be with my family. It felt so weird to not each sweet potato souffle and pumpkin pie. I was a little homesick (honestly that was the first time). I love you guys, but I've been having so much fun here it really hasn't hit me, especially since I'm coming home fore Christmas. Well I decided the solution to my funk was pumpkin pie. I decided to cook an American Thanksgiving meal for my friends. I researched recipes and met with my friend Jenny to go shopping. About 10 minutes into the shopping trip, my dreams were crushed. Not only was pumpkin no where to be found in the swankiest supermarket in Spain (Corte Ingles) but brown sugar, cream of mushroom soup, vanilla abstract, and turkey were also absent. So my pumpkin pie, sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, and oven baked turkey were all out the window. We were down to canned green beans and mashed potatoes.

In this moment of despair my friend Jenny stepped up and had a genius idea. Why not a Mexican Thanksgiving? At first I was skeptical but then I remembered my love of spicy food. So we had tacos complete with rice, beans, beef, guacamole, chips and salsa. O yeah and potatoes. My friend Cian is Irish and he had already washed potatoes so he insisted on cooking them. And guess what? It was just as delicious and fun as a traditional meal. 

Cian has a house, which is pretty rare here in Madrid, so we were all able to sit down, which means 7 Americans and 4 of Cian's Spanish roommates all around the table. Although I think the Spaniards thought we were a little crazy when Cian put on "Proud to be an American" and came running through the house using an American flag as a cape. 

After dinner we went around the circle and said what we were thankful for. It was a really great experience, and so much fun. When I was sad about the traditional meal failure in the beginning, Cian reminded me that the fun part is hanging out together, and he was completely right. It was a great way to celebrate even though I missed my family and friends back in the States!

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