Sunday, November 25, 2012

Microwave Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in foreign countries is always an interesting experience, and I'm never quite sure what to do. In Niger, each of us planned beforehand to bring something to make as a potluck--but in Ghana, I'm not here with colleagues to plan ahead with. Of course you have those expat gatherings, usually organized by the Embassy, where you can find all the right food and blah blah blah. But I think that's boring.

I've learned so much about Ghanaian culture, traditions, and holidays, that I wanted to try and bring an America tradition to my friends here. But, much easier said than done for a few key reasons: 1) I don't have an oven..or a kitchen, for that matter. I have a microwave. 2) Cooked Turkey is IMPOSSIBLE to find. 3) Power outages are unpredictable and spiteful.

So, bearing those three key factors in mind, I set out to create a make shift Thanksgiving imitation, to try and show my friends what this American holiday is like. First step was finding the food.

My initial idea was to try and find the sides and main dish already cooked, since I knew my ability to actually prepare food was limited. But after searching high and low for cooked turkey, I decided that oven roasted chicken would have to suffice. The mashed potatoes also proved tricky. I even went to the KFC to try and find pre-made mashed potatoes -but they didn't even have them on the menu! How can you have a KFC with no mashed potatoes, I ask you?! Anyway, after considering several options, such as mashing up french fries, or boiling potatoes in my electric water heater, I decided that the easiest option would be to buy frozen mashed potatoes and cook them in the microwave. However, I couldn't even find plain mashed potatoes! The store had frozen mashed potatoes blended with sprouts, or frozen mashed potatoes blended with spinach. Both bizarre--but I decided that the spinach combo would be less weird.

But at that same grocery store, I also found instant stuffing, instant gravy, and frozen peas and carrots, making my meal mostly complete, and thus, microwave Thanksgiving was born!

I called up a few friends, commissioned one of them to bring some wine, bought all of my ingredients, and set out to create my feast. However, just as I walked through the door of my apartment, the lights dramatically went off! Not only did this ruin  my Thanksgiving plans, but, as anyone who was at my parents' house knows, it made the traditional Thanksgiving day skype call a bit of a challenge as well. Fortunately I have a simcard powered modem, so I could access internet, but visibility was a bit of an issue on my end, even after lighting several candles. But it was still fun to chat, and get to be "part" of the holiday with family.

But back to microwave Thanksgiving! The good thing about having all frozen/instant food, is that it is inherently made to last. Which means that while microwave Thanksgiving had to be postponed, none of the food was ruined.

So last night, I gathered some friends, made my microwave earn its keep, and American Thanksgiving was celebrated! The chicken was great (obviously because I didn't make it), and the rest of the food was saved by salt, butter, and the gravy. Gravy makes the meal, in my opinion :)

And while I assured my friends that real Thanksgiving food tastes much better than what they were eating, we had a lot of fun, anyway.

We got pretty silly towards the end.

I hope everyone had a safe, and delicious Thanksgiving!!

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