It was my first Thanksgiving in Spain and our rented flat didn't have an oven so I tasked each of my roommates to go out and get a boyfriend, friend or acquaintance who had one. Luckily, my American roommate understood the importance of this mission and came back with Santiago – the owner of a large kitchen and large oven, albeit one that was located somewhat far away on the other side of town.
And while I've surely told this story at least a hundred times, on the eve of Thanksgiving so many years later, I just can't keep from smiling at the thought of it: how my friend Ashley and I called in sick to work and picked up the 20+ pound bird at the market in a taxi and drove it uptown in style; how we got tipsy on the cooking sherry that was meant for the stuffing, spent an entire day cooking alone in this relative stranger´s house and eventually caused a blackout in his entire building as we sucked up all of the electricity on our 8 hour turkey, stuffing and pie baking bonanza; how the famous blackout didn't have the courtesy to wait for the turkey to finish cooking and so more cooking sherry was consumed while we waited for the electrician to come and sort us out again; how by the time the turkey was finished it had to be transported boiling hot right out of the oven and swimming in juices in the trunk of Santiago's car (who had come home from work that night to find virtual strangers jollied-up on cooking sherry, an electrician, and a bunch of cranky powerless neighbors) in traffic, to a house full of 20 some guests who had been waiting, starving at my house for about two hours for the food to arrive; and how, when we finally arrived, we realized that in our haste to tuck the turkey snugly into the car, we had left the stuffing, pies, potatoes and whatnot on the curb in front of Santiago's house; so he had to go back, in traffic, to retrieve them.
I think that the food that Thanksgiving was delicious, even the burned slivers of bitter parsnips (I´m not naming any names) and the cold accompaniments. I know that the best part of the evening came after dinner when we passed around a bottle of Turkey, (this time the Wild Turkey kind) and everyone drank a shot and said what they were thankful for – something that would have been very TV movie were it not for the fact that we represented about 9 different countries and 5 different languages with their corresponding simultaneous translations - I also know that the best part of that Thanksgiving has been just being able to repeat this story over and over again. I can´t think of a better way to pay homage to my favorite holiday or to explain what it means to me.