Ah, Thanksgiving, my favourite American holiday. I like it even more so these days because the Italians, the original feast day champs, are so flummoxed by the concept. Why, if this is the biggest feast of the American culinary year, do you insist on eating turkey, peasant food? Surely, a roast or cingiale would be more fitting for a super power, I can hear them thinking as I again get grilled on the significance of the tradition.
To my Italian amici, please note: Thanksgiving is a celebration of the earth's bountiful goodness, recognition for generous local hospitality (in other words, a feel-good myth that delicately skirts any mention of syphilis, the systematic slaughter of the indigenous population, nor the inevitable winter starvation that set in after the hangover wore off) and good laughs among friends.
This year, I am celebrating my first Thanksgiving in the land of gustazione. That would be Amandola, in the Marchigiani hills of Central Italy. Joining me and Xtina will be three Yanks (2 of which, Jim and Kate, hail from London) and a couple friend from Rome and their little boy, Davide. Yesterday, we started on the arrangments. Our local butcher extraordinaire, Mario, informs us he can source a nice bird. Very proudly, he announces he has a 16 kg (35 lb) turkey -- enough to feed the entire village. We pass. We're looking for something in the 4-5 kg range. Perfect, he says. He's got one that weighs in at 8 kg. Sold! We'll have turkey til Xmas, Xtina says wearily. The rest of the menu will be a snap, though I'm guessing cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes with marshmallows, a family tradition, won't get through Customs in time. There won't be any American football either, but I can live with that.
What we will have plenty of is snow. Winter has cruelly invaded these parts in the last few days. It went from the lows 20s (mid 70s F) a week ago to freezing in a span of 24 hrs. Now, the forecast in Amandola is for three days of coperto neve: an ambiguous term that means "covered snow", but more often than not resembles blizzard conditions. We have plenty of firewood. And we'll stack up on local wine, good food and music. And, I'm sure if there's any break in the weather, we'll do a gran giro around the countryside, a gaggle of Americans and indigenous peoples paying homage to the beauty of Central Italy.
We'll slaughter them on another day.