Thanksgiving-Moroccan Style

November 25th, 2010

First of all, I just want to wish everyone in the United States a very Happy Thanksgiving!!  Thanksgiving is probably my very favorite holiday, scoring well above Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.  For one, I get to eat as much pie as I want, and pie (at least my mother’s) is my favorite dessert.  My mother makes all the pies Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so the holiday for me at least, seems to start a day earlier, which is great!  In addition, I get to eat all the other “traditional” Thanksgiving foods that we usually only have at this time of year.  Cranberry sauce is probably the best example of this.  In the past, we’ve had three different types of cranberry sauce, the jellied kind you get from the can, a homemade sauce with whole cranberries and other yummy spices, and a cranberry/orange relish which is the best when you eat it on oatmeal the day after.  Also, Thanksgiving is the one holiday where my family travels to be with our extended family.  We don’t live extremely close to any of our relatives, so it is extra special when we do travel to see them for Thanksgiving.  My cousins and I usually have a blast camping out on the floor in their basement all week.  🙂  Since I’ve come to Wooster, I’ve spent the holiday with the other side of my family who actually lives in Ohio, while my immediate family spends the holidays with family in New England.  Either way, I’m surrounded by people whom I love, and only get to see at certain times of the year; I’m eating a whole ton of delicious food, and reflecting on everything that’s happened to me over the year, and all the things I have that I should be thankful for.  This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

So this year, I’m in Morocco for Thanksgiving, which is not celebrated in Morocco.  What do I do???  Well, our program director coordinated a Thanksgiving potluck dinner on Wednesday night for all the students of my program.  Each person was asked to bring one dish.  I brought garlic mashed potatoes.  Yummy.  Not my most favorite Thanksgiving food, but it is easy to make and the ingredients are easy to find in Morocco.   So, Wednesday morning between classes I did a bunch of shopping for all my ingredients, including 3 kilos of potatoes.  I had to bring enough for 19 students, plus guests, so I figured it was better to make too much, and have leftovers than to not make enough.  Anyway, there was quite a spread yesterday evening.  There was a huge 9 kilo turkey, prepared Moroccan-style with lots of olives, different potato and vegetable dishes, macaroni and cheese, Moroccan salad, salsa and guacamole, cheese and crackers, fruit salads, deviled eggs, cakes, ice cream, pumpkin cheesecake, and Oreo cookies.  I brought my host mother with me, since she helped me make the potatoes.  She doesn’t speak English or French, but fortunately, many of the professors were there and she could speak in Arabic with them.  My friends could also introduce themselves to her, which was nice.  I hope she enjoyed an American Thanksgiving.  I wonder if her experience was similar to my experiences here in Morocco.  In Morocco I encountered new foods, a new way of eating, even a new attitude about food.  I would imagine her experience was at least a little bit similar to mine, with some of the foods, or even not being able to understand the majority of the conversations that are going on around her.

All in all though, it was a great Thanksgiving dinner.  I am really thankful that our program staff made such a tremendous effort to make sure that we had a nice Thanksgiving experience away from home.  Tonight I’ll talk to my family in the United States, and wish them well.  I don’t feel as if I’ve really missed out on this holiday at all, despite the fact that I’m thousands of miles from home.  I’ve got so much to be thankful for.  I’m here in Morocco having an absolutely amazing experience for one thing.  I love school and can’t believe I have such good friends there.  My family has been so supportive of all the decisions I’ve made over the last few years, and I feel confident in myself and am extremely optimistic about my future.  So, even though I’m missing the big Thanksgiving feast, I don’t think I’ve missed out on the real purpose of Thanksgiving.  In fact, I think this year I’ve understood what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about even better than when I’m back at home eating squash and pumpkin pie.

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