Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving

November 30, 2008

Although I'm a few days late, Happy Thanksgiving! It's hard to believe that yet another holiday has come and gone already...and while some key elements were missing (aka my family), others were certainly present - including an absurd amount of food which I of course stuffed my face with - so in a way, it still felt enough like Thanksgiving : ) My holiday was two-fold: EAP held a dinner for students from both Padova and Bologna, and then I headed to Lucca for the weekend to celebrate it with my family there on Sunday.
Thursday night I celebrated Thanksgiving with an EAP-organized dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant in Padova. The restaurant provided the turkey, mashed potatoes, greens, drinks, and "pie", and then all the students were asked to bring a potluck dish to supplement the food provided. I had to ask for a special plate sans turkey and stuffing, so instead of the bird they gave me chunks of cheese - as if that was equivalent! The food was decent, and after finished our large plates of food, we all kind of wondered why we'd brought more food... What they provided was more than enough! But in true Thanksgiving fashion, we continued to eat past the point of bursting, until we all sported a good sized "food baby". The potluck consisted of an interesting array of foods, including nearly 100 tangerines, cakes of all sorts, deviled eggs, cornbread, grilled eggplant, salad... I brought olives - both marinated and fried - only to discover after the fact that the latter were stuffed with meat! I was quite annoyed. The one disappointment of the evening was the dessert the restaurant served us, which was supposed to be pumpkin pie... Instead they were these little squares with a crust that was too doughy and was on both the bottom and the top, was hardly sweet, and had a strange gelatin film on the top. It was not good, and not pumpkin pie! I suppose I can't expect much better since it is Italy. The evening was overall very pleasant though. It was fun seeing all the kids from Bologna that we knew from Rome, and meeting all the new ones who skipped the summer program. The wine flowed freely and there was never a lack of conversation, but after a couple hours, combination of the long day and the red wine made me pretty sleepy so I braved the cold and headed home.
Friday afternoon I took the train to Lucca. Gina closed up the upstairs of her house to save on heating costs, so this time I went to stay at Lia's. I was a little sad I wouldn't get to sleep with Tequila, but Lia's house is really nice and so much warmer! Friday night and Saturday were pretty low-key, spent indoors because of a rolling thunderstorm that literally lit up the entire sky and dumped buckets. Despite the bad weather, it actually wasn't quite as cold as it has been in Padova.
Sunday morning Lia dropped me off at Gina's to help get things ready. The turkey was already in the oven and the potatoes were in the process of being mashed, so I used some sprigs of berries and branches from a mini pomegranate tree to create a centerpiece and 2 smaller accents. Despite my complete lack of flower-arranging knowledge, I think they turned out pretty : )
There were about 25 guests, mostly family, so the house quickly became a bustling center of activity and noise! The menu was delicious, almost a "traditional" American Thanksgiving (although being Italian, they had to include a first course of pasta!), and included: fresh pasta with ragu sauce (butter and sage for me!), turkey and cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, garbanzo beans, sauteed spinach, green salad, and for dessert, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and an assortment of cakes. Gina made my stuffing special, never seeing the inside of the turkey, and it was absolutely delicious! It made me miss home though because it tasted exactly like the one my mom makes : ( And even though the pumpkin pie wasn't homemade, it was delicious and satisfied the craving I'd been having the last few days. It was such a great feeling to be surrounded by family though, even if there were a few key members missing ; )
I finally got a family pic of Gina, Lia, Vic, and Adele, too. And of course, no trip to Lucca would be complete without more pics of Tequila! This weekend was the first time I'd been back to Lucca since the end of September, and I'd honestly missed it and the comfort I feel when I'm here. After a busy past month, relaxing in Lucca was exactly what I needed.
I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and spent at least a moment appreciating your blessings. I'll be the first to admit I don't do it often enough, so I think it's great that we have a holiday specifically about being thankful, even if it sometimes seems to be about eating turkey! Those of you who know me know my feelings concerning turkey consumption on Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd share these cute cartoons : ) Enjoy, and once again, Happy Thanksgiving!
p.s. Only 20 more days til I'm home!!!

Love you all.

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