Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Thanksgiving in Scotland


It seems to be a common, yet unfortunate theme that I have at the beginning of each blog, however I must do it again.  I would like to apologize for not getting this blog out on time.  I was planning on writing this blog last Friday before I left for Barcelona, however I misread the time of the flight as 7:15 not 17:15, which is a difference of two hours.  Consequently, the two hours I had planned on using to write a blog were quickly dissipated.  Never to fear! I will do my absolute best to get caught up on my ongoings, however given my track record, we’ll see how that goes….

As you all know, last week was Thanksgiving, and being in the UK where the holiday has absolutely no meaning, I was a little nervous that this, one of my absolute favorite holidays and one that I feel already gets overlooked, would get passed over.  However, once again, it was Butler to the rescue.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Butler sponsored a dinner for all of the students studying in Scotland at a restaurant in Edinburgh.  So on Wednesday evening, all of the Glasgow students gathered at the main gates of the campus and boarded a bus for the trip to Edinburgh.  Unfortunately the ride was much longer than we anticipated because of a severe accident on the road that created a massive traffic jam.  In the end we made it through and only arrived at the restaurant a little over a half and hour late.

We ate at a restaurant called Ghille Du right by the castle.  We had the option of chicken, salmon or some sort of pie/tart kinda thing that I can’t really remember now.  I chose the chicken as it was closest to the usual turkey dinner.  Despite the small-ish proportions, the food was absolutely delicious.  After the main course, we enjoyed a delightful dessert of rasberries and cream with some Scottish shortbread.  It was a wonderful meal and a great chance to take a little break and reconnect with some of the other students we had met during orientation and on the trip to the highlands.

Inside Ghillie Du

On our bus ride back, we quickly realized that we had although we had brought up the idea of having our own Thanksgiving day potluck dinner, we had failed to solidify any details.  After a few minutes we determined where and when we would be having it and who was making/bringing what.  Of course, Will and I, which essentially just means me, got stuck with the chickens (turkeys are very expensive/hard to come by in the UK because they are a bird native only to North America).

Although I have cooked/grilled many a chicken breast, I had never cooked a whole chicken so when I got home I hopped on Google and did some research.  Once I had a good idea of how to do it, I came up with all the ingredients I would need and made a list to go the store the next morning after going to the gym.  Lucky for me, at Tesco that day they had a deal that was 3 chickens for 12 pounds and even had a bag of mixed veggies that were the exact ones I needed for making the stock for the gravy!  It was as if they knew I would be coming by, looking for 3 chickens and some veggies.

Me and one of my beautiful chickens.

Put in a great mood by my awesome finds and the beautiful weather, I headed back to my flat and put the goods in the fridge.  I had class that afternoon, but would still have time to cook all three chickens before our 7:30 dinner date across the way at Jonathan’s flat in Queen Margaret.  Once I got back from class I eagerly got to work.  I oiled up the birds, seasoning them with some salt, pepper, basil, and coriander and some lemon juice.  However, I soon realized that our small flat stoves would only have room for two birds so I had to run the third over to Jonathan’s to cook.

I then set to preparing the stock for the gravy.   I had read that homemade stock made from the gibblets is much tastier than stock prepared with boullion, however my chickens came with the gibblets removed so I had to run to the corner store about 5 min away for some cubes.  Luckily they had them and I quickly added them to the boiling water with carrots, celery, onions and leeks.  After cooking the chickens, which turned out quite well if I do say so myself, I gathered up all the drippings and set to making my first batch of gravy.  Although it was a little thin, I and everyone else still thought it was delicious.

Will and I then made our way over to Jonathan’s with our chickens and added them to the feast.  Everyone really came through and we managed to have a pretty amazing meal.  It had everything that I could want in a Thanksgiving day meal, chicken (close enough) with gravy and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls, and even a delicious pumpkin/squash casserole made a couple of our Australian friends who wanted to tag along for the festivities.

Carvin it up!
The group and our glorious spread.
Our feast.
The most beautiful thing I have ever seen…

Before we ate, we all went around and said something we were thankful for, may times it was for the wonderful friends we had made since coming abroad and the amazing experience we have had in Scotland and other countries abroad.  It was a great way to reflect on many of the things that had made up our quickly ending semester abroad.

After dinner, we enjoyed some delicious desserts of apple crisp and cherry pie and boy was I stuffed.

Dessert
The group post-dinner/dessert.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was an absolute success and one of the most enjoyable and memorable moments of my time here.  Although we have all integrated fairly well into the Scottish culture and consider Glasgow home, it was great to take a break from all that and the stresses of school and just relax and do something completely American.  It really felt like we were back home in the states enjoying a wonderful meal among close friends.  We were even able to stream the football games live, which was the perfect addition to the Thanksgiving atmosphere.

After dinner we did a colossal amount of dishes and then sat for another hour or two watching the game and chatting and enjoying each others company.  I was thoroughly satisfied both physically and emotionally.  Thanksgiving in Scotland may just have been most memorable Thanksgiving yet.

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