Sometimes, I wish I were Italian.
I wish I were one of those long-haired, olive-skinned women, strutting the cobblestones of Rome in sky-high stilettos, never batting an eyelash. I wish that I could toss my head back and fire off some rapid-fire Italian, and a bottle of wine would appear. I wish that I could hop on the back of a Vespa and ride off into the Roman sunset, crossing the Tiber with my arms around a hunky man named Alessandro.
Most unfortunately, my complexion is pale, my accent is obvious, and I’m still waiting for my Alessandro. I’ve had to accept the fact that I’m American.
Luckily, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, the wonderful holiday in which there are more side dishes than can be counted on one hand, the centerpiece is a huge piece of meat, and it is perfectly acceptable to have three (or five) different kinds of pie for dessert. Obviously, it’s my favorite holiday.
I therefore plan on celebrating it abroad, no matter how un-Italian it is. And you should too.
***Tips and Tricks***
Throw a potluck. Gather your American friends, and have everyone bring her family’s signature Thanksgiving dish. You’ll get to have a taste of each person’s heritage, and you’ll learn some tricks to bring home for next year’s Thanksgiving. At the end of the meal, make sure to exchange recipes.
Improvise. You may find some ingredients hard to find in the city where you live. Cranberries? Not exactly a European favorite. Work with what you have–cranberry jam, if you can find it, or some other kind of tangy-fruit accompaniment if you can’t.
Throw a country-style feast. And by country-style, I mean country-you’re-abroad-in style. Studying in Italy? Cook up some antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolce – the works. Studying in China? Whip up a Chinese banquet. Embrace the country’s culture, and feast accordingly.
Do something…crazy. Always wanted to make that chorizo stuffing, but your family keeps kosher? In the mood for chocolate cake instead of some classic pumpkin pie? Go for it. Nobody’s looking over your shoulder. You’re not in America. No rules apply.
The more, the merrier. Invite friends from your new country, invite other American students, invite the waiter at your favorite restaurant, invite the random guy hanging out on your stoop (well, maybe not the last one). Thanksgiving is about sharing – food, stories, laughs, memories – and the more sharing going on, the happier you’ll be. You have many things to give thanks for. It’s time to celebrate.
Brette Warshaw is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is a student of European history, creative writing, and jazz studies. She will be eating her way through Rome during the fall semester, leaving a wake of empty plates, flabbergasted waiters, and ripped skinny jeans behind her. Read more…