Posted by: thezedword | December 10, 2008

Kiwi Thanksgiving

Stacy and I really expected our first Thanksgiving to be a disaster. Thanksgiving is a holiday you’re supposed to spend with other people and we deliberately avoided doing this. We planned to make our own meal and feared that if we invited a few people from work over after talking up Thanksgiving all week that we’d completely screw it up and have to order pizza.

It didn’t feel entirely like Thanksgiving anyways. First, eating turkey is a bit uncommon here, so we had to go down to a Whole Foods-type store, Moore Wilson, to get one and it was expensive (about NZ$60). While we did conveniently have the day off from work Stacy had an interview in the afternoon and we ran to Moore Wilson after to pick up the last few things we needed (meat thermometer, carving knife). While we were out people were going to and from work and everyone else went on with their day as if it were a normal Friday.

Yup, it was Friday, so it wasn’t even really Thanksgiving day here, but back home it still was due to that whole being-on-the-other-side-of-the-world thing. Also, we kind of forgot to factor in the time it would take to prepare the food, so we didn’t actually sit down to eat till about 8:30, long after the football games in the States had ended and many hours later than when Stacy and I both usually eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Chef Kevin Purdy, hard at work.

Chef Kevin Purdy, hard at work.

I think the biggest lesson I took away from the experience was that a turkey that is 4.75 kilograms is a HUGE bird. Especially for two people. That’s a 10.47 pounder. There’s a contingent of American girls in one of my preschool swim classes and they all gathered together for Thanksgiving. Between the three of them, one sibling, and six parents, they polished off a 10-pound turkey. We ended up having plenty of leftovers and sadly threw most of it away.

That’s where our turkey and Thanksgiving misfortunes end though. The night before Thanksgiving (very, very early Wednesday morning back home) I called Chef Kevin Purdy in Charleston, South Carolina and asked for a recipe. He spouted one off the top of his head. Did you know you can put your hands under the skin of a turkey? Well, you can. Plus, you can mix up some butter and herbs and put those under there too. Also, Chef Purdy taught me that if you cook stuffing inside your bird, you have to cook the bird about ten degrees more than necessary to make sure the turkey juices in the stuffing fully cook. By then, the turkey will be dry. Instead, we put carrots, onions, celery, lemons and oranges in the cavity. The turkey turned out more juicy and flavorful than any I’ve ever had. (Sorry, Abuela, but it was just better than yours.)

The Turkey, shortly after being removed from the oven.

The Turkey, shortly after being removed from the oven.

Though we found a turkey, sweet potatoes aren’t grown here. Instead, they have kumara, a sweet, orange or red yam that tastes exactly the same. It made for a fine substitute for sweet potatoes in my sweet potato soufflé. Kiwi marshmallows, however, are very different. The only small ones we could find to top the soufflé were fruity flavored rainbow-colored ones. We figured we might as well just try them out anyways. Of course, the sweet kumara soufflé turned out extra sweet, slightly fruity on the top and a wee bit purple.

By the time the souffle was done, we had corn, mashed potatoes, turkey, sweet kumara souflee, bread rolls and roasted veggies from inside the turkey. We crammed all our food on to our coffee table, found something to watch (nothing Thanksgiving-ey was on, I think we settled on Miami Ink) and pigged out. Things ended as most Thanksgivings end: with pains from an overstuffed stomach.

The meal. Stacy puts ketchup on everything.

The meal. Stacy puts ketchup on everything.

At the end of the day, what we were most thankful for was Skype and phone cards. Even though we are on the other side of the world, we called our friends and family throughout the day and sounded like we were right down the street from them. I took my computer into the kitchen and my parents, uncle and cousin watched Stacy and me prep the bird and the rest of our food. I felt as if I was on a cooking show, one in which both hosts look confused and the male one wiggles his fingers under the turkeys skin while the other goes “Stop, ew!” and the viewers sing Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

And that’s what Thanksgiving is really about. Laughing and eating around family and friends. Thanks to the technology that we had available to us, we did this, and the world felt a little smaller and home felt closer than ever.


On a side note, Ryan Blake, I still do not forgive you for sending my call to voice mail. Telemarketers do not call your cell phone at 11 PM on Thanksgiving night. That is not a valid excuse.



  1. Hi you two,

    Loved the Thanksgiving editorial! I congratulate you on your ingenuity and the table looked lovely. I agree that you had way too much food, but you guys did one heck of a job of making a festive meal.

    Also love the placement of the TV remote on the table. Very artistic!

    Happy warmer weather.

  2. The fact that Stacy eats katsup (yes this is an accepted spelling) with everything is sadly the epitome of american cuisine.

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