So I am currently snacking on some 24 hour salad. A food that was not just called, “somewhat special” by Mette but…(drum roll) “Near Disgusting.” Even Ida had trouble with it. Which makes no sense because I see that child sneaking marshmallows whenever they are in the house…and she like grapes and pineapple. WHY NOT COMBINED? I stared her down at the dinner table last night and said, “For me Ida, try it for me.” (Christian translated). In the end some change from her father’s pocket convinced her to take a bite… I see where I stand.
However later that night I helped her out. She was begging Christian for something. Christian asked me, “What should I tell my youngest? She wants to sleep next to her mother and father tonight which we never really allow”…(I am sure Ida only wanted this because there is a TV in front of the bed which meant she would not have to move in the morning to watch her fleeting hours of Disney programming) Anyway, I said, “It IS Thanksgiving” (Whatever that means…) SO Christian gave Ida the okay because “Emma said it is Thanksgiving”. Ida started bowing at me. (Her go-to display of gratitude) As I was walking downstairs to bed, Mette (who was very tired) came out of the bathroom and saw Ida walking into her room, Christian said something to her in Danish (explaining the deal) She said in English, ‘Not in my bed.”
I wonder how that one worked out.
Anyway, that is how Thanksgiving ended…lets see how it began…
Yesterday I made Thanksgiving dinner for the host family and their family friends. It was a little stressful but overall successful.
On Thursday (real Thanksgiving) I celebrated by skyping with da parents. They seemed good. When my host dad got home we did the awkward “skype hello” with the parents (by the way father, Christian had no idea what you were saying the whole time…I translated when we hung up. (you have to talk twice as slow) He said his hair was messy too.)
Then Christian and I went grocery shopping. Sometimes I am judgmental about the “need” of smartphones. However that thing was darn helpful. “Christian do you have nutmeg?” Christian: Hold on… types in “Nutmeg” into the English/Danish translator and in 2 seconds: muskatnød. “Oh yeah, it is right here…”
Thanksgiving shopping with backpacks and bikes. I can be done folks (although heavy and slightly awkward weight distribution).
Hardest things to find in Denmark: Canned pumpkin (bought in London weeks ago). Evaporated milk, cranberries, many spices…
We were not able to find frozen cranberries so I came to terms with the fact there would be no chutney (which I am a fan of). However, last night about 40 minutes before dinner Christian came in the kitchen with a bag of dried cranberries. He said, “I think it will be fine, just add some water…” I was skeptical, very skeptical. However, I will never again doubt the abilities of a Danish person to know how to create a Thanksgiving dish they have never tasted before. I added some water, raisins, walnuts, grated some clementine peel for “citrus” and about 20 minutes later it was 80% the same as what boils down for hours at home. Crazy sauce.
However, going back to Thursday, when we got home from shopping I had to turn around and go back into Copenhagen to attend a field study at an architectural firm. So glad I went…great lecture. Then I stopped at a larger grocery store to find some things we had not found yet (cashews, green vegetables, cranberries, sweet potatoes). For a “green vegetable” I found brussel sprouts. When I was checking out I was shocked by the price. They were on sale for 2.5 kroner per bag. (1 US dollar for 2 bags). I thought this was great…here was a vegetable that looks like it “should” (aka not wilted or discolored like most veggies found here that were shipped long distances) and it was cheep.
I got home and pulled out a bag of the sprouts to show Christian. He went “oh.” I pulled out one more bag. His face was one of shock. He said, “Way too much. You eat about one each, they are SO bitter. Have you tried them before?” I said,” Yeah. But you don’t like them?” He said, “Not so much, I can eat about one.” (GREAT)
Anyway, then I ate a huge dinner and then for dessert Christian had made “Christmas rice pudding” (forgot danish word). The most rich food ever. Ingredients: A little rice, a TON of whipping cream, almonds, sugar and a cherry sauce for the top. Eating Activity: The tradition is to hide a whole almond in the mixture and whoever gets it wins a prize. Christian explained that usually this was for the kids. I asked, “Am I young enough that I can still be competitive?” He said, “Oh yeah, tonight everyone has chance”. It was also explained to me that when you get the almond you try to be sneaky and hide it in your cheek so that everyone else keeps eating (despite the fact everyone is SO FULL from dinner and then this rich concoction).
There was enough pudding made for about 10 people, however there ended up only being Christian, Anna, Ida and I eating…(kids come and go in this house on a whim and Mette was still at a meeting). Anna ended up winning (and luckily she didn’t hold out sharing her victory for our stomachs’ sake) She also shared her present with us (which was Christmas chocolates with sprinkles). Fat+ Sugar officially unavoidable here.
After dessert I said I needed to start the pies. I did try to start this task, but then I skyped (excuse me, g-chatted with video because she refuses to use skype) with Sadie. (she told me that I had not gotten ENOUGH brussel sprouts and gave me a recipe for them). She also talked with some of the host fam. After Sadie (in computer form) was gone, Mette got home. This was helpful because she was able to point out where everything was “hidden” in the kitchen. I learned to ask and not try to find. She seriously has every tool ever (besides a turkey baster). I decided to just make the crusts and 24 hours salad because I was tired. Why do it today when you can do it tomorrow? (While I was doing these kitchen tasks Christian asked if I wanted to listen to music. I said, “Yes.” He put in some Danish folk artist. Pretty good.)
Friday (We had the day off from school): Woke up. Finished pies. That went fine. (only slight panic when the oven went on lock mode…but by pushing a lot of random buttons the red lit-up key sign went away)
Then, Turkey Time. I really wasn’t looking forward to preparing the turkey. However, this was based upon my conception of the prepped, giblets in a plastic bag turkeys that they have in the U.S. Here it was a little more “rustic”. After having the turkey on the counter for about 5 minutes (and failing with the “mind over matter” mentality) I thought: “Emma use your resources.” (Referencing back the time I was walking one of neighbor’s dogs with a friend. Angie (the dog) had crazy diarrhea on the sidewalk and Cecilia picked it up, no problem. I am thankful to this day. Lesson learned: Some tasks which are HORRIBLE for some people, other people aren’t phased by)
So in this situation my only “resources” available were Anna and her friend watching the Disney channel. I called the twelve year old over…
Emma: “How gross (point to turkey) do you think?”
Anna: “What?” (walks over to counter from couch)
Emma: “Do you touch meat, or is it gross?”
Anna: (shakes head) “gross.” (and with hands says little bit)
Emma: “Okay, thats just fine…I will be brave”.
And while Anna was still standing there I pulled out the neck from the body…Anna almost barfed right then and there.
I thought: “Great.” I call over my 12 year old host sister(who was happily watching tv) to ask her a confusing question and then pull out a bloody body part from a dead bird causing her to bend over and gauge. I’m awesome.
After I pulled out the neck (and Anna went to the bathroom) I didn’t realize the organs were on the other side. The opening wasn’t too big…so I got my flashlight and used some tongs for that. It reminded me of bio labs without the smell of formaldehyde. I was so glad I didn’t have to eat it.
When I got to the part where I had to tie the legs together. I asked Mette for some string. They didn’t have any in the house. What did I use? Minty Fresh dental floss…Worked fine, but the non-waxed kind might have been easier to tie.
At this point I got a text that said one of my friends wasn’t coming because she was sick. (which I was slightly predicting cause she was most of the week). However, Marueen (another DIS student who goes to St. Olaf and is staying with my host family’s friends) came over to help. She had told me over facebook that she didn’t cook. I thought this was “…didn’t cook much” It meant, “This is my first time peeling a potato”. (but after an entire bag she was an expert)
The rest of the afternoon was spent making:
Sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, sauteed brussel spouts with brown butter, stuffing. It went pretty smoothly. The turkey was freaking me out because it was looking “dry”…so I kept dumping broth on it. Perhaps I should have read up on this process a little more.
We left the gravy up to Christian. Mette said he had trouble staying out of the kitchen and she had told him not to “meddle”. Instead of just adding some flour to the liquid he decided to add some duck broth stuff. I said, “I guess the birds are friends…” Then he added some Danish “brown sauce” to the gravy, I said, “That is not American.” He said, “but it is good.” We also had him carve the turkey. ( I think he enjoyed that)
The friends arrived at this point. Ronny is the dad (who I had met before) and has three kids Rikke (14) Simon (12) and a 5 year old who I didn’t catch her name (his wife came later for pie…and her name started with a T). Rikee was really nice and friended me on facebook right when she got home. I talked to her more than I have talked to my host sisters in 3 months. Simon was interesting. He saw my computer and said: “I see you have skype”. I said, “Yes.” He said, “Can I add myself?” I said, “I guess…?” He started typing stuff in and then began walking away. I said, “you know we could talk now…” (Later that night I saw a new contact “Simon Voss” was online.) Simon did end up coming back and kept Maureen and I company in the kitchen for a little bit. He had made mashed potatoes at school that day so he made commentary about that and then played with my pumpkin covered swiss army knife (which was out to open cans…)
The 5 year old was very outgoing. I had made a paper origami “Mayflower” for the table which she found, and then made into a hat. However the temptation to unfold it was too overwhelming. So then she just had a piece of paper. So I took the paper and made her a paper airplane (that again got unfolded after a few flights and was presented to me for something new) I made her a fan. She was a fan of the fan and so it stayed that way. (Which was good because that was about as far as my paper folding knowledge went). (I also learned high-fives aren’t as common here…when she threw the airplane well I held my hand up for a high five. She jumped back like I was about to slap her. Shoot. …after Rikke explained everything was good.
Dinner went well. Everyone was good at trying things (at least one bite). The turkey was a big hit. They said it was really good and not dry. (Lucked out on that one). Also the brussel sprouts were a big hit. (To the shock of all) Even Christian took seconds. He said, “They are much better when not boiled”. At dinner Maureen discussed what day she was flying home and the time. Mette asked me when my flight was. “I said, I don’t exactly know.” She said, “Of course you don’t.” This then turned into a senerio where I would not be allowed to leave the house and they would send a nice note to my parents about the fact I would not be coming home. It was good to hear I was on the kidnap level of being accepted into the fam. If I was the type of person to share what I was thankful for, I would have said how thankful I am to be staying with such a welcoming family. However, I am not that person, so I left it unsaid.
After dinner we watched the final of Vild med dans. (Friday night dancing show). My favorite team won. It was a good show. It was also a lot of fun because Rikke was translating the commentary so I could follow more than what I could just see. The TV held up until just after the winners were announced and then reception was dropped. (I guess because of the wind, Christian said a Hurricane was coming…hopefully just a fluke in translation)
Pie was then eaten. Pumpkin people said was, “interesting”. Apple was more accepted. All in all I was told that my parents should be proud and that dinner was very nice. (So I guess it went good). During pie eating I showed a 2 minute youtube clip of the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with Santa sleigh. I was asked who the woman in green was. I said, “Mrs. Claus…someone has to keep Santa company up in the arctic. ” I was told, “In Denmark Santa lives alone.” Harsh.
I was really tired by the end (along with everyone else). After the guests left I helped clean up the kitchen but then went to bed. I also realized that perhaps I should not have worn a white sweatshirt to cook in all day.
And that was that. Today I am procrastinating writing a paper that needs to get done before I sleep so I can enjoy “Christmas decoration day” tomorrow. Mette and Christian are off at a birthday party and the girls are somewhere. I have spent the day so far writing an outline, eating left overs and continuing to teach Viggo English words. I tried “speak” today. It went down pretty well. (After he sat, laid down, sat again, put his paw out to potentially shake, he then “spoke”.) It was still treat worthy. Didn’t go out running today, I just didn’t want to risk the hurricane. Perhaps I should check the weather forecast… another good procrastination activity.
Hope everyone had a good holiday.
p.s In case you are interested in watching a soundless video for 1:56 min. (sound removed due to annoying commentary) here is