Friday, November 26, 2010

Another expat Thanksgiving

American expats have many different experiences of their holidays, depending on where they are. Thanksgiving is one, I can attest, that many Kiwis just don’t get. Mind you, I understand: Thanksgiving is a harvest holiday referencing another country’s mythology. In New Zealand, it’s Spring and the historical references are irrelevant.

And, yet: It’s Thanksgiving! I’ve often tried to keep the traditions alive, but it always seems to get hot just when it’s time to do the roasted dinner. Not such a good idea, really.

Today I roasted a turkey—a real turkey, not just a fake roll. I also made a pumpkin pie (using tinned pumpkin, of course). The result was mixed.

The turkey was frozen (it’s hard to find fresh turkey, in my experience) and ended up moist and nice—but tasting nothing like an American turkey. I have no idea if that’s because of the additives in American turkeys (NZ ones have none) or if New Zealand turkeys are just different. I have no frame of reference! I can’t say whether NZ turkeys are more pure or if US ones are totally fake; all I can say is that my NZ turkey was different.

The pie was another matter. The filling was fine (it’s hard to screw that up), but the pastry was too hard. The thing is, a family member is gluten intolerant, so I made gluten-free pastry—and I’d never made any sort of pie pastry before. Let’s just say, it was an incomplete success.

The meal, on the whole, was nice and enjoyed by all. Still, it was HOT as I was making dinner. I think I may skip it—and the heat—next year.

The larger issue is celebrating a US holiday in another country. Many of us find a way, even though the country we’re in doesn’t have any connection to it—or even understand it. We find a way and sometimes, like this year, it’s good.


amerinz's sis said...

My guess is that NZ turkeys probably taste more like turkeys our ancestors ate. The US does add 'stuff' to their turkeys and other meats these days. One company says their chickens have nothing added, but I know they inject sodium. After I cooked one, I had to through into the garbage. The sodium content was so high that my mouth began to burn.
Also, I noticed that meats I ate in Europe tasted very good, more flavorful than that in the US. I actually didn't reconize that I was eating beef and lamb!!

Arthur Schenck said...

Actually, the turkey didn't taste like anything. It was completely bland, with not even as much flavour as chicken.

Interestingly, in New Zealand if a company says "nothing added" it has to be true; labels can't mislead or misstate.

Beef in New Zealand is usually aged, which makes the flavour much better. For lamb, it really depends on what you have: Lamb, hogget or mutton. The flavour is more intense the older the sheep was. Lamb is fairly mild, while mutton is strong and better suited to casseroles or curries.

And I think that's most I've ever said about meat on this blog! :-)