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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fixing the Fixings for Thxgvg

We're going to celebrate Thanksgiving on the 23rd, a Wednesday, because it's a national holiday here in Japan. That's just over a week away, and I am late starting the shopping this year.

It takes many trips to many different stores in Japan to procure all the fixings a Thanksgiving dinner requires. Plus we don't have a car. So I can only haul home what I can carry in my own two arms and sling in canvas bags over my own two shoulders, and that has to be in addition to whatever we need for dinner that particular day. (And yes, I can get the groceries delivered, but last year the international market forgot to deliver my turkey the day I had asked, so it would arrive in time to defrost it, and was I in a panic, though I got it delivered and defrosted in time after all.)

Yesterday I got the turkey and the stuff for the blueberry muffins. The turkey is 11.08 pounds this year, one of our largest ever here. My tiny oven won't hold a turkey over 12 pounds, or so we think...we don't want to haul home a turkey just to find out it won't. Every year we inch closer to what we perceive to be our oven's limit. Last year I got one close to 12 lbs. but this year this one was the biggest under 12, so... One year I got a 5-lb. turkey. When I told my mom, she laughed and said it would be all bone. It was, pretty much. We could just get a turkey leg, I suppose, but somehow I need the hunk of turkey-shaped meat in the center of the table.

I hate stuffing, so my family has never had any. Instead I make a really wonderful Turkish Pilaf (recipe here), and my kids think it's called Turkish because we always have it with turkey. Last year (and again this year) there was a canned pumpkin shortage here, but my sister Jamie sent me her fresh pumpkin pie recipe, and I'll never use canned pumpkin again (well, maybe not never; if I have a lot of writing going on and there is canned pumpkin available, who knows...).

Anyway, everyday between now and next Wednesday, I'll be bringing home a few of the groceries I need for our feast. So that's what I'm thinking about today, whether with this late shopping start I'm going to be able to procure all the groceries in time without any days of double trips to the market...Not very poetic, but it's where my mind's at.

14 comments:

Kristin said...

I think your post has lots of poetry potential! The pilaf that your kids call Turkish, the canned pumpkin shortage, the wonderful juxtapositions of being an American celebrating a quintessentially American holiday in Japan, celebrating a holiday that celebrates survival and bounty without a car which means you can only procure the bounty bit by bit . . . yes, I see several poems!

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Hi Kristin,

Thanks for taking time to read my blog and comment on it. I suppose you are right: there are elements of poetry in a Thanksgiving celebrated in Japan. Thank you for using your fine sensibilities to point that out to me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Leslie Jam said...

I adore going shopping around Thanksgiving, I love that everyone, regardless of demographic category buys practically the same foods, seeing all the matching market baskets just makes me happy!

Jeannine said...

I love this description too! If I can recommend my husband and my solution to the "gigantic turkey our oven is to small to cook" problem (we often rent small apartments here on the West coast...) we have tried:
--buying a skin-on, bone-in turkey breast and two turkey legs. Bang - everyone's favorite meat pieces, no fuss, much less cooking time, etc.
--trying an alternative to turkey. We've tried duck, quail, and pheasant!
--I don't know about your family, but my family of origin had ham as often as they had turkey for Thanksgiving...so that is considered an acceptable substitute! Now, to find a tiny ham...

Jessica Goodfellow said...

I almost didn't post this yesterday, because it wasn't poetry-related, but all your kinds responses make me glad I did.

Jeannine, what good ideas you have. Ham is harder to come by here than turkey (like a nice big ham-shaped ham--sliced ham we got). Duck and quail and pheasant, I'd have to look around for that too. Wild boar, we got though. And I can get turkey legs, maybe a breast, if I look around.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Les, there is something democratic about Thanksgiving shopping, isn't there? Doesn't feel like it here though. Ran into a mother from the elementary school when lugging home my frozen turkey and had a long discussion with her about why why why was I doing this....

chris said...

One of my living-in-Japan-goals used to be making a turkey-day dinner here, but I have given up. Don't want to deal with the tiny oven and have no patience for piece meal shopping. Plus I'm farther away from the main shopping areas, which would intensify my frustration. Maybe someday Zen and I will cook a turkey in America in grandma's huge kitchen.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

It is a challenge here, isn't it Chris? I live in walking distance from 5 international markets (some the walking is far, but do-able) and I will have visited all of them before I have all the makings for Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of time and effort, and is just impossible for people without the resources my city happens to have. No point being frustrated in making Thanksgiving though. You can still be thankful without all the extras.

Mari said...

Hi Jessica -- my father and his wife used to buy a pre-roasted turkey at Kinokuniya in Tokyo because their oven was too small and they didn't want the fuss. Often they would simply go to a restaurant (amazingly, some Tokyo hotels and clubs serve Thanksgiving dinner!). Luckily for me, someone else will be dealing with the turkey this year. But I'll be thinking of you, shlepping up those Kobe hills with your various bags and parcels, dreaming of Turkish pilaf. Enjoy your holiday with your family!

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Hi Mari,
I bet there are places we could go out to Thanksgiving dinner even here in Kobe--the Kobe Club probably, if not a restaurant somewhere. I still like the fuss of making the dinner though; it's all part of it, and the kids are small enough I want that to be part of what Thanksgiving is, the all-day cooking, the smells wafting through the house, waiting for company to arrive, all that. Someday I'm sure I'll be ready for a premade dinner or a dinner out though; that's for sure!

Mari said...

I hear you about creating memories for my kids. My Japanese mother attempted a T-giving turkey early in my life and was so traumatized by the effort (and the results, I suspect) that she never made one again! From then on we always celebrated the holiday at other people's homes. As an adult I've made an effort to have a home-cooked meal at home or with friends; it's worth the work, I agree.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Mari, I can so relate to your mother. I don't do o-seichi ryori for New Years. I let my mother-in-law do that. Food outside of one's own culture, especially celebratory food, can be so daunting. Thank goodness we have other options!

Mari said...

That was weird -- I typed "my kids" and I don't have kids! And, yes, you're wise to leave the o-sechi ryori to your MIL. Very wise.

Have a good holiday!

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Mari, I finished my shopping yesterday, and began the baking today for our feast tomorrow. Things are moving along!

You have a good holiday too!

Jessica