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?



It’s Halloween, my absolute FAVORITE holiday! Hooray for all those people celebrating. Sadly, I feel I have missed the cursed boat.

Halloween is not a big deal here. How sad and boring.

HOW, how could I possibly have missed the most important holiday of the year?

Point One: I’m Lazy

Point Two: Remember that whole part about dumping all my stuff so I can move to another country? Well, that means my small but effective collection of spooky decor and costume pieces have *almost* all been dumped. And, while there are some options at the local ASDA (read: Wal-Mart), it’s mostly just child-size masks and polyester shrouds.


My sad little Halloween display


The rest of the street – aka NADA


However, I did get more trick-or-treaters here than I have in rented apartments, which is good. I’m also impressed that none of the pint-sized ghoulettes have been Elsa so far.

ALSO – BONUS POINTS TO BRITAIN – They don’t have these B.S. rules here about the precise and acceptable times for trick-or-treating. So, the first spooky child showed up at 6:30 – not 3:30 like around the Chicago suburbs. I still don’t understand what problem the time/ date restriction attempts to solve. I also categorically reject any attempt to understand it, so really, don’t bother – I enjoy that part of my childhood too much to accept any modification to it.

There are Haunted Houses here, but fewer and far between.

Anyway, now that I fully understand the dirth of delightfully dreadful decor and distractions, my planning for 2015 starts NOW.

Step 1: I’ll be cleaning out anything useful on clearance at the store tomorrow.

Step 2: Start my own Haunted House – maybe I can pair up with some charity to run it.

Step 3: If I don’t have enough space to throw a party at our place, I’ll have to rent out whatever the equivalent is of a VFW hall here.

Next year, if any of these fail to happen, please refer to Point 1 above.