Friday, November 28, 2008

A Dakar Thanksgiving!





COULOMMIERS 350 gr: 4750 CFA




I wanted to make homemade cranberry sauce, but instead I will have to eat canned. I wanted to have a real sweet potato pie, but instead I will have to settle for a pie that uses two white sweet potatoes, not two orange ones. I wanted to make brussel sprouts the same way that I do in the states, with heavy whipping cream, fresh marjoram, and chicken broth, but instead I will have to use crème fraiche, dried thyme, and chicken bouillon cubes.

If Senegal has taught me anything, it has been to be more flexible and understanding. In Senegal, things never go the way that you want them to, and there is always a curve ball thrown your way. I cannot be thankful enough for all the amenities I have in the states.

I emailed my mom requesting three recipes (sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce, and brussel sprouts). It has become a tradition to eat these three things on Thanksgiving Day, of course with mounds of other things. My mom happily sent the recipes my way, reminding me to be flexible and wishing me the best of luck with tweaking the recipes (as she knew that some ingredients would be hard to come by, or non-existent).

Erin, Chelsea, Sarah, and I carrapides-ed it to the Sahm’s Casino in Medina, where we all hoped to find the necessary ingredients to finalize our dishes. Erin needed the ingredients to make a green bean casserole, Chelsea and Sarah were in search of pecans, corn syrup, and cornstarch for their apple, lemon meringue, and pecan pies, and I was in search for all the ingredients I would need to make cranberry sauce and brussel sprouts (Nadia was going to do her own shopping for the ingredients to make the sweet potato pie). No marjoram. No fresh brussel sprouts. No cornstarch. No corn syrup. No chicken broth. No cranberries. No whipping cream. No fresh green beans. No chicken broth. Luckily, however, we did find $5 bags of pecans and pine nuts and lots of other expensive things that no Senegalese person would ever think about using in their cooking. I ended up spending 14,160 CFA on ingredients at Casino…it is actually kind of cool that I can say that I spent fourteen-some-thousand on ingredients for two dishes. I bought the “ingredients” to make brussel sprouts and stuffed brie with orange marmalade.

I woke up at 7AM to head to the local patisserie, so I could pick up some fresh pain aux raisins and pain au chocolat for Tricia, Joan (Tricia’s mom), and the rest of her family; I was going over to her house to help cook Thanksgiving dinner! Tricia and her mom were responsible for the turkeys, stuffing, vegetables, salad, cornbread, pies, and so much more, so I jumped on the opportunity to get my Thanksgiving Day cooking fix. I was picked up by Tricia’s kids nanny and arrived chez Tricia at about 8:30AM to start cooking.

I was greeted by four wild turkeys that had been soaking in brine over night, and was told that I was going to be buttering and seasoning them, then chopping up some vegetables for them to cook in. After we had finished the turkey prep, Trisha and I went and ran errands to a restaurant called L’Endroit to drop off the turkeys because nobody in Senegal has the oven space to cook four 15lb turkeys, Club Atlantique (there is a duty free shop—we bought a lot of nice bottles of wine), Mermoz Boisson to buy ice, one of the fifty-billion fruit stands to buy fruit for our fruit basket centerpieces, and many trips to and from the Baobab Centers (where Thanksgiving dinner would be held at 5PM). When we returned to Tricia’s house, I finalized my prep for my baked brie and cooked the brussel sprout dish; we left her house to head to Baobab III to prepare for dinner around 4PM.

There were five tables covered in white tablecloths and on each a fruit basket centerpiece. The room was set for as many as 50-60 people and we were all hoping that our potluck style Thanksgiving would provide us with enough food. We had plenty! 4 turkeys. 25lbs of mashed potatoes. whipped sweet potatoes. green bean casserole. brussel sprouts. mixed vegetables in garlic sauce. baked brie. fresh bread. stuffing. salad. macaroni and cheese. lots of wine. Senegalese fruit juices. potatoes au gratin. lemon meringue pie. pecan pie. sweet potato pie. pumpkin pie. apple pie. IT WAS SUCH A GOOD THANKSGIVING!!!

We all ate until we were about to explode. I had three plates of food and then five “slivers” of pie...I felt like I was going to die! We all doubted our abilities and thought that the event was just going to be okay…we were all complete wrong! It was such a wonderful evening to spend with my friends, teachers, and other Senegalese students, and though it was not the same as making Thanksgiving dinner with my mom or heading to Michele’s house, it was an unforgettable evening. After dinner, we watched Love Actually and finished off all the wine and beer. We all were so tired and full that we just sat in the Baobab Center till almost midnight (before many of us realized that we should head back to our respective homes or at least not spend the rest of our night in the building that houses our classrooms)!

I ended my night with a call home…I was able to talk for 26 minutes and 56 seconds before my 3,961 CFA worth of credit cut me off mid-conversation with my sister. All in all, it was the perfect way to end another amazing Thanksgiving Day!

Questioning whether I want two feet of snow in my backyard or the beach and 80 degree weather. ALEX

No comments: