Anatomy of Thanksgiving dinner

For my first Thanksgiving in Britain, my family conspired to surprise me with a Thanksgiving dinner! My wonderful sister-in-law, mother-in-law, mother, sisters and husband were all in on the job – making the exact recipes, and even sending over American ingredients to make sure it tasted just like home.

My home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner away from home, with the comments I heard from the British:

Salad Starter:

“Why is there fruit in the salad? What are these hunks of bread for?”


“Well, the strawberries are alright, but I’m not convinced about the oranges.”

We started right away with some confusion. Croutons are not commonly added to side salads in the UK; they’re mostly for salads as a main dish. And fruit? MADNESS.

Corn Bread:

“This is bread?  This is a cake.”  “They really haven’t changed the package since 1950, have they?” 


If American bread already tastes sweet to the British, Corn Bread would certainly be considered a cake. In fact, our corn ‘bread’ is sweeter than many cakes the British would have for dessert.

Green Bean Casserole:

“What a strange recipe..” “That’s actually alright!”  “I’ll have more of that bean soup.”


They started off skeptical, and didn’t agree that heating beans and canned soup could be considered a ‘casserole’. This recipe also comes from the 50’s, created by Campbell’s.

It was pointed out that the French’s onions claim of authenticity was… suspicious.”Why do they have to point out that the onions are actually onions?”


Jellied Cranberry Sauce:

“Uggghhhh”  Most refrained to comment.
jellied out of can

If you serve it right, you can count all the ridges from the can! Fun family party game – can you count all the ridges?!


Waaaay too sweet. The sentiment was that it was unnatural, and didn’t actually complement anything on the plate, while REAL cranberry sauce actually does. This also isn’t ‘sauce’; it’s jellied cranberry juice, with extra sugar.

Sweet Potatoes:

“Marshmallows?!” “Too Sweet.”

marshmallow pecans

Of course we’ll take a sweet thing and then add sugar! For this dinner, there were three versions: with marshmallow, with pecans and brown sugar, and with brown sugar only. The pecans were accepted, but the marshmallow not as much.

 Pumpkin Pie:

pumpkin pie

Pumpkins seem to have been introduced to the UK mostly in conjunction with the importation of Halloween. Most had either never had pumpkin pie, or already knew they did not like pumpkin. That’s OK – More for me!

Do you see the pattern here? (sugar, sugar, more sugar and then some high fructose corn syrup!)

What do you think of these American Thanksgiving classics?


on behalf of America – I’m Sorry!

Black Friday was yesterday in the UK.

The phrase just sounds so wrong.

Black Friday is a consumerism frenzy that kicks off of a season intended to celebrate the humble beginnings of a religious renaissance – so, it’s just fundamentally wrong and off-the-mark to begin with. That’s like inviting Julia Childs to introduce a line of TV dinners.

It’s the day after the American Thanksgiving – so what is it doing in the UK?! It’s obviously been imported for profit, unbridled capitalism being arguably the greatest American export.

It’s named Black Friday, I had heard, because it’s the day on which most retailers finally turn a profit. Another theory, described in this article in UK’s The Telegraph, is that the term was coined by police on the East coast to describe the horror that culminated from traffic of holiday shoppers AND rival Army and Navy college football fans travelling to the annual game. Personally, I’m inclined to believe the latter, since I don’t think American businesses in the 40’s would have been forthright about the state of their finances. But maybe that’s just a reflection of the financial skepticism that permeates the current times.

Black Friday is a massacre of a holiday – so for this import, on behalf of Am’urica, I’m sorry.

Workload: “And Finally, Monsieur, a Wafer-Thin Mint…”

This certainly applies to many professions – I’ve certainly held positions where the “other duties as assigned” clause was used as often as my job description. At least, in the UK, there’s a contractual agreement about how many hours the ‘salaried’ job is expected to require, and the workers have the right to stick within that limit. Not so of the American job, and the traditional American work ethic.

Othmar's Trombone

Maître-D’: Today we have for appetisers: moules marinières, pâté de foie gras, Beluga caviar, eggs Benedictine, tart de poireau — that’s leek tart — frogs’ legs amandine, or oeufs de caille Richard Shepherd — c’est-à-dire, little quails’ eggs on a bed of puréed mushroom. It’s very delicate, very subtle.

Mr Creosote: I’ll have the lot.


Maître-D’: A wise choice, monsieur. And now, how would you like it served? All mixed up together in a bucket?

Mr Creosote: With eggs on top.

Maître-D: But of course, avec les oeufs frites.

Mr Creosote: And don’t skimp on the pâté.

Maître-D: Monsieur, I can assure you, just because it is mixed up with all the other things we would not dream of giving you less than the full amount.

The bilious Mr. Creosote: undeniably one of the Monty Python team’s…

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