The guest list included nearly all of the Americans from Colin’s school, four men, and my South Korean friend from my French class who spent a semester studying at a university in South Dakota. Not knowing exactly what we could expect this group to contribute, we took on the burden of basically doing it all ourselves: turkey and all the fixings in an oven we think we can work.
And why not? I can make green beans, potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, biscuits—even pie when expectations are really high—and Colin has roasted at least four different Thanksgiving turkeys over the years. The only ingredient I truly didn’t have at my disposal was cranberry anything, but Colin pishawed that as an unnecessary accompaniment.
And some days before, I produced a truly marvelous batch of biscuits from our oven, which was enough evidence to convince us that Thanksgiving would
go off without a hitch happen.
Despite all this confidence, it was a tense weekend. Any thought of a homemade dessert was scraped in favor of allowing a guest to pick something up on the way. My produce guys’ green beans were pitiful on Saturday, leaving the fate of that major and sole true vegetable dish for gameday Sunday. I stocked up on a few extra bottles of wine, thinking that our guests might not even be up for that challenge and that we would need something to do while we waited for the pizza delivery in case our oven didn’t live up to our ambitious expectations.
And as it happened, we didn’t get off to such a great start with said oven. I pulled my theoretically mostly baked stuffing out of the oven to make way for the turkey and was able to handle it with my bare hands. Why wasn’t it 375 degrees? The sugar-melting calibrations had kind of worked. We realized only then that simultaneously using the stove and the oven significantly reduced the amount of gas–and therefore heat–going to the oven, totally throwing off my calibrations. Colin fiddled with the gas canister, the flames went higher, but we had no idea what temperature we were working with.
Colin stuck his bird in anyway. Some three hours later, we got a call from the unheard-from invitee: he would be coming after all, and he was bringing a guest, and they wouldn’t be arriving until an hour after dinner. We had to ask him to BYO plate. Twenty minutes later, while I was still in my pajamas and frantically making bruschetta to compensate for two more mouths to feed, our first guest arrived, thirty minutes early.
I got over it, though, because he brought tortilla chips and salsa. Yummmmm. America (Mexico?)!
Somehow everything turned out alright. Everything finished at the same time, and despite (because of?) Colin repeatedly opening the oven to guess whether it was hot enough to cook his bird, the turkey came out great. We got turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and biscuits all on the table at 5:05, all hot, and even with a little bowl of pomegranate seeds to make up, at least visually, for the missing cranberry sauce. Our guests were impressed. I was impressed.
Pleasant weather allowed us to eat on the terrace, five stories above the Sunday quiet of Rabat. With all the English, the most American of meals, and all the wine, it was almost possible to forget we were thousands of miles away from home.