While it may be a US tradition, Thanksgiving has well and truly made its way across the pond. Whether you’re going all out or keeping it small, we’ve got tips for stress-free celebration…
Celebrating local traditions in another country can be a challenge. Thankfully, technology’s bridging the gap to spread Turkey Day joy far and wide. We caught up with American food blogger Bernard, who runs Meyer Food Blog with his wife Diana, about his family’s plans for Thanksgiving in Europe and the apps he’s thankful for this 23 November…
Meet the Meyers
After leaving Miami in 2009, Bernard Meyer spent a year teaching English in Mongolia before joining his brother in Lithuania where he eventually met his wife, Diana.
The pair started Meyer Food Blog about a year ago and say it’s been a great way to learn more about planning, recipe creation, cooking and food photography – a task made all the more challenging with a toddler underfoot.
“Both my brother and I have families now, so we’ve come up with our own Americans-in-Lithuania Thanksgiving tradition,” Bernard explains. “On the fourth Thursday in November, we’ve made it a rule that only Americans can cook. Guests can bring wine, sweets and other small items, but only my brother and I are allowed to prepare the food.”
To make things even more interesting, Bernard’s eldest brother recently moved to Vilnius and married Diana’s sister, so they now have a third brother to help in the kitchen.
Food and family festivities
This year, Bernard says they’ll be celebrating at his eldest brother’s home and the host is always in charge of the turkey.
“I think the trickiest thing for us every year is finding a decent-sized turkey. American turkeys come in some pretty big sizes, but here it’s difficult to even find a whole turkey. Lithuanians and perhaps Europeans in general usually have turkey breast or sometimes turkey legs. We rarely see whole turkeys in the supermarket so we have to arrange to buy them well in advance or even directly from turkey farmers.”
But that’s not the only Thanksgiving challenge the Meyers have faced.
“We used to eat macaroni cheese made with Velveeta (a kind of processed American cheese). But it’s incredibly difficult to find over here. I use the Yummly app to try and find new recipes or variations on classic recipes so we’ve made the switch over to a delicious three cheese mac and cheese. In fact, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back to the Velveeta kind again. Sort of a blessing in disguise.”
Three kinds of apps
As well as his trio of cheese, Bernard employs three kinds of apps to inspire, entertain and keep in touch.
“Besides Yummly, I use the Epicurious app as well. It’s one of my favourite sites in general for quality, sophisticated recipes and it’s the first place I go if I want to find something new but good. We use the Kitchen Timer app to keep an eye on cook times for all the different dishes. We also use Spotify or YouTube to play our favourite music. Usually it’s jazz, soul music or funk – it’s best when the mood is happy but not too crazy.”
Bernard also uses Skype to chat to family in the US – bringing everyone closer together.
“They’re a few hours behind us, but we often call them when we set the table so they can see everything. We don’t tend to talk to them for too long since everyone is hungry, but we’ll often talk to them again later when their food is ready.”
Bernard’s final advice for low-stress celebrations?
“Most importantly, remember that Thanksgiving is a family day celebrated by way of food. Primarily it’s about being together and having a good time. So what if the pastry’s a bit burnt or the mashed potatoes are a bit overcooked? You’re together, eating and laughing – that’s the most important part.”
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