No Ordinary Day – Thanksgiving in Wales!
Eegads! I’m so behind on blog updates! Sort of. I can’t say I’ve had to much to really share lately–the last few weeks of lectures have been flying by, and because I have to return to my home university and therefore cannot be in Wales for the official exam weeks in January, I am in the midst of completing all my final assessments (= stress). But more about that later. First I need to take you back…back two weeks…to that day most Americans mark with an afternoon of delicious food, family, and tryptophan-induced naps in front of the television…
Thanksgiving, wrth gwrs! I must admit, I was pretty sad to be missing out on Thanksgiving at home. I would’ve liked to see my parents and especially my brother, whom I have not seen since August. But going abroad is a trade-off, and I was willing to settle for a post Thanksgiving dinner Skype call. My fellow American flatmate Molly, however, proposed that we have Thanksgiving dinner with our flat and give our British friends a little bit of an American holiday experience. Sounded good to me! We assigned everybody a food to prepare, and even sent out some silly invitations we found at Tesco. They obviously don’t sell Thanksgiving dinner invitations, here or maybe anywhere, so we got creative and took it upon ourselves to modify some Wedding RSVP cards, which ended up being rather a laugh. In any case, everyone RSVP’d with a “yes,” and we had everything planned.
Of course, we all had a long day of lectures and seminars to get through first!
I started off my day bright and early and met my fellow IFSA Butler-er, Sarah, at a great coffee shop just down the way from my residence to edit our Welsh assignments that were due that afternoon.
Sarah opted to go for the fresh croissants and a mug of cocoa; I was feelin’ something light, so I had a banana and some weird ginger-lemon tea that was good for the first five minutes and far too gingery thereafter. It did, however, wake me up, as advertised.
After our meeting, I went back to my flat to go to the gym and then settle in for another few hours of Welsh study.
Note: The Phantom of the Opera original cast recording is extremely conducive to the study of Welsh (or I might just be weird that way).
And studying Welsh is no joke, man. It’s definitely a process, which for me involves covering every available surface with flashcards and worksheets, along with the infamous sticky notes, which you might notice in the following photo:
Crazy as this sounds, though, concentrated Welsh study sessions put me in a state of mental Nirvana.
Anyway. So, I studied and then I went to Welsh class for two hours…and then it was time for THANKSGIVING!
Here’s Molly, ready to make some “stuffing balls” using her boxed stuffing mix:
We’d have made real stuffing, but everybody had lectures until 5:30 or 6pm, so we took the easy Uni-student route. We also didn’t dare attempt to roast a turkey…so we substituted with two Tesco rotisserie chickens. 😉
I suppose you can’t really tell here, but having an entire flat attempt to cook at the same time in one tiny kitchen gets very crazy. But we managed somehow.
And we ended up with a lovely dinner! Overall, it was a really great bonding experience for our flat. It was the first time EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US had gotten together to do something all at once.
It wasn’t over yet though. After dinner, Jenna and I (with Gabriel & Anthony’s help) attacked the pies–one pecan, one pumpkin!
Now let me tell you…finding canned pumpkin in this country definitely presents a “finding a needle in a REALLY REALLY BIG haystack” experience. People don’t really use pumpkin in cooking here! On some nicer restaurant menus you might see pumpkin soup, but that’s about it. None of the Brits in our flat had ever eaten pumpkin before…I also overheard two girls in the School of History & Archaeology that puzzling over how pumpkin could actually be made into a dessert, of all things.
It’s sad, they don’t know what they’re missing! So anyway, finding canned pumpkin in Cardiff–don’t bother with conventional grocery stores and supermarkets, because none of them have it! I literally stumbled across it entirely on accident when I was walking around town with Molly the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We were in one of the older, tucked-away arcades window shopping when we spotted a really cool looking shop/restaurant with imported food from all over Europe. They had all kinds of olives, oils, meats, cheeses, imported cookies, cakes, grains, all sorts of things!
And there, on the very top level of a set of shelves no wider than my body, I saw it: amidst boxes of wildly over-priced PopTarts and tubs of Marshmallow Fluff…LIBBY’S PURE CANNED PUREED PUMPKIN!
It was indeed a Thanksgiving miracle!
Here are the pies in their final state, and here’s one of me very intently arranging pecans for the second pie; yes, I knew that my beautiful pecan placement would soon be ruined by a cascade of sugar syrup. But it was therapeutic!
There were a few minor problems, such as the fire alarm going off four minutes before the pecan pie was supposed to come out, but it all worked out in the end and they tasted delicious!
And thus concluded my Thanksgiving in Wales.
I’d love to continue this post, but I need to go get some studying done first (I have a very scary Welsh aural test tomorrow!). When I next take a break, I’ll write a little post about my trip to London the weekend after Thanksgiving!
ps. If you ever do find yourself in Cardiff for Thanksgiving, desperate for a pumpkin pie…just head for Wally’s Delicatassen in the Royal Arcade–American import section, tippity-top shelf!