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How To Celebrate Thanksgiving When Abroad


While studying in Oviedo, Spain in 2010, I felt homesick once: Thanksgiving Day. I knew I would miss the food, family, and football that surround the tradition. Thankfully, two generous immigrants living in Spain brightened my day and the homesickness dispersed.

During our weeks in Oviedo, my friends and I became close with the bartender and chef of Matur Asturias, a sidreria that caters to the younger crowd on Calle Gascona, Oviedo’s famous cider bar street. Alejandro, the Venezuelan bartender, let us chose the music and have first pick at tables when we walked in on busy nights. Emperatriz, the Guatemalan chef, cooked free food for us often while others had to pay.

The two bar operators crafted a Thanksgiving Day surprise for us American students. We walked into the empty bar early in the evening after a call from Alejandro. As we sat down, Emperatriz brought us a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie.

I couldn’t have been happier. She researched American Thanksgiving recipes and bought every ingredient on her own dime (or Euro), refusing our payment for her efforts
The stuffing had a distinct South American spice, making it taste like no stuffing I had ever eaten. Emperatriz’s mashed potato experiment featured various other ingredients that I could not distinguish, but they added to the phenomenally tasty South American flavor. The turkey was huge and the pie was delicious.

As the food kept coming, our group kept growing. Eventually, our six-person table fit 15 feasters trying to grab a plate of this culinary wizardry.

Five plates later, I had to take a lap around the block. The 15 of us couldn’t thank Alejandro and Emperatriz enough for their generosity and thoughtfulness. What started out as a potentially unfortunate Thanksgiving turned out to be the most memorable Turkey Day I’ve ever had. Who would have thought that I would spend an American holiday in Spain with people from Venezuela and Guatemala?

*By: Tom Malone
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