On Thursday night I had the honour of celebrating my first Thanksgiving with my new American, and other international friends. When I say it was an honour I really do mean it. Thanksgiving was the first time I felt like I was back home again since I got to the UK and I now understand why American people are so proud of their country.
There was so much food I literally felt sick afterward and I was told that is exactly how you should feel after Thanksgiving. It was like our family Christmas dinners on steroids. We even had football projected on a big screen and dinner was made up of three courses. Now you would think a few snacks as starters could never make you full, but then you have never had crackers with spicy buffalo chicken wing dip. It is the most cheesy, chickeny yummy dip I have ever had and seriously I could eat it as a meal just like that. Here are two recipes for an original spicy buffalo wing dip and a more cheesy one if you would like to try, I definitely am!
After our very strong Sangria made by our lovely French friend (the French do love their wine) the turkey was finally ready and we were allowed to sit down. As soon as our hosts said their thanks the food started drifting past me like something in a very tasty dream. There was almost too much to even decide; taters (it’s like sweet potato) with melted mini marshmallows on top, stuffing (which is supposed to be inside the turkey but actually gets eaten on its own most of the time), baked brussel sprouts with vinegar, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, ham and of course the star, turkey with cranberry sauce (definitely a favorite for me). I tried to only take a small portion of each, but my plate was still overflowing before long!
For dessert there was apple pie, cinnamon cupcakes and the item I have been looking forward to all week, pumpkin pie! Why had I been looking forward to pumpkin pie so much? I have never had it before, but I really miss anything pumpkin! I was literally raised on pumpkin (I think it’s the first whole food any baby in South Africa gets as soon as they can) and I never realised how much I would miss it until I came here. So yes, the British don’t eat pumpkin! They don’t even really sell pumpkins here. They do buy the big orange ones for Halloween and carve them, but they don’t eat them. Why on earth would you punish yourself in that way by not eating pumpkin!
So when I finally had my first bite of pumpkin pie and whipped cream (because apparently it’s the cream that makes it) I was in heaven. Here is a recipe for Homemade Pumpkin Pie that I am gonna try and make for my family for Christmas. Apparently the best pumpkin pie is made from pumpkin puree and because of the lack of UK pumpkin, my friend who made the pies had to buy canned pumpkin from the dreaded Amazon. I was so deprived of pumpkin however that I still ate the evil Amazon pumpkin.
At the end of the night I had a very nice food baby and it was all talking, laughing, searching for the turkey wishbone (it was hilarious seeing people sticking their hands in the turkey to find it) and watching our French friend’s love affair with the whipped cream.
The night was not just about the food, it was about being together. It was like being with family and it was beautiful to see all the Americans Facetiming with their families, stopping everyone every now and then to scream happy Thanksgiving into their phones. It was a night of so much happiness, with an American song lifting into the air every now and then. I am still not exactly sure what Thanksgiving is about or where it came from, but it is a wonderful tradition.
The pride the Americans have for their country, their sport and their food reminded me of home. In South Africa we have this same pride when our national teams play sports, in our tradition of braaiing and in our country in general, but sometimes we forget it. It made me slightly sad to think of it as I believe that South Africa could be just as great a country as the USA if we could just keep the pride and stop criticising everyone and everything every chance we get. Coming to the UK has opened my eyes to a world much bigger than just our southern tip of Africa, and let me tell you something; it’s not better here. It’s not better anywhere else. Every country has their problems. I grew up with so many people telling me to go overseas and leave home, it will be so much better there, but I can honestly tell you right now, it is not. As South Africans we are so lucky to live in a country so full of diversity, sure it causes friction, but it also means the opportunity to come out of your comfort zone as a person. The money might be better here, but only if you bring it back to South Africa, because living costs here is much higher than back home. The streets are not cleaner here, there is still litter lying around, there are not less beggars, there is still crime (someone’s laptop got stolen out of their hall room in the first few weeks we were here) and despite the idea of safety people have here I have heard of a girl getting raped not far from campus.
So on Thursday night I was thankful for the wonderful country I can call home and I will keep hoping that our pride in our country will only grow, despite the bad things that happen, because bad things happen everywhere. It might have taken me coming to another continent to realise it, but I am Proudly South African, just like my American friends are proud to be American and if nothing else I will promote my country to the point of irritation to anyone who ever says to me that it’s better to go overseas ever again.