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An Ex-pat Thanksgiving

30 November, 2008 (05:14) | Living in Europe | By: admin

I’ve been back home here in Barcelona for a couple weeks now. It was strange an surreal to return here with the grief at having lost a dear one. After about 10 days of non productive depression I began creating a social calendar again and forced myself to bike around the city a bit. Again, Barcelona is a great healer. I am always enriched by chance encounters or the discovery of a new hidden spot that is sunny and quiet. I always ride around with my tek pack, a leather “marsupial” pouch, a pricey one I bought in Florence recently, one that holds my NAGRA audio recorder in one pouch, my digital camera fits perfectly in another, and it has a special holder for my cell phone, plus a zipper in the back for keys, lipstick, emergency 20 euros. I’m ready to document anything that catches my eyes and or ears. I feel like a sound design gypsy when I tool around the city.

A few days ago my ears brought me to a corner of Ciutadella park that is green, hidden by trees and ends at a fence, on the other side of which are zoo animals making wonderful sounds. Wow! I noticed the time was about 2:30 so they must feed the donkeys and waterbuffalo I saw on the other side of the fence at around 2. Next time I’ll try to get there earlier to record the sound of the braying and cowing of the soon to be fed animals.


Today was Thanksgiving in USA but not a holiday here in Spain. Irregardless, we invited neighbors and friends over for turkey and mashed potatos and yams.

When Mark picked up our turkey (we pre-ordered from the butcher) there was a homeless guy trying to scrape up enough change to get some gizzards to feed his family with. He tried to sell Mark a bag of kleenex. Instead Mark bought him the biggest chicken the butcher had.

Somehow that random act of kindness must have basted our turkey, because with no guide but the internet Mark improvised a stuffing with bread croutons and sliced catalan sausages and threw the turkey in, with none of the traditional basting et al one reads one should traditionally do.

3 hours later the turkey came out a moist and perfectly cooked 5 kilo bird (about 12 pounds). About 10 friends managed to make time to come celebrate, only one of whom was actually American but had been living in Barcelona for 18 years. Mark made mashed potatoes and yams as well. The meal was a big success and possibly one of the most traditionally happy Thanksgivings I’ve celebrated. Our longtime Catalan friend here, Cristina, had NEVER eaten turkey before. She says maybe she’s had sliced turkey before, like from the supermarket, but never has she eaten a real turkey. Our other friends, who brought panettone, had to go back and open up their computer repair shop around the corner at 4, but they kept their customers waiting a half hour because it would be rude to leave before dessert. Yum! Desert was great and we got them out the door by 4:30.

By 8 o’clock it was just Cristina and also our American neighbor still hanging out. Our neighbor dashed out to the store and returned with some ice cream. We ended the days feast with yummy ice cream. Maybe its not a normally celebrated holiday here, but this is our second year making a turkey bought by the local butcher. We are thankful that our crazy vision to move here is panning out as we hoped. We are thankful that with the latest historic Obama election win we can once again be proud of being from the United States of America.