Last Saturday, I made (with a lot of help) Thanksgiving dinner at my friends Tiziana and Andreas’ house, in Tuscany, as they have a very large dining table, for 13 Italian friends, including my son and daughter-in-law from Poland.
Here is a video from the appetizer part of the evening.
And Tiziana’s beautiful table.
It was so great! They were all very excited and appreciative to eat and be a part of this truly American meal!!! Please take a look at all the pictures, and especially this video where my son Zach wheels out the huge turkey. It was 7.8 kilos – over 17 lbs. At the last minute, we all realized that there was no room on the table to carve the turkey and the platter was so huge and heavy with the bird on it, so Tiziana says, “let’s wheel it out” and is wiping off this cart that I never even realized she had! Zach wheels it in to the clapping and cheering of “TACCHINO!!!!”
It was thrilling and hilarious all at the same time!!
To make this meal happen here was quite a lot of work as well as nervousness involved on my part. The stakes were pretty high. People were traveling in from Roma, Milano and Berlin. I was cooking with unfamiliar things in a kitchen I had never cooked in before. I made all of my recipes in my Thanksgiving book, but to get all of the ingredients and convert from pounds to kilos and translate the spices and EVERYTHING – I must admit – it was quite a feat. And, you can’t buy things here too early because the fresh fruits and vegetables do not last as long as they do in the States. Either we put preservatives on everything and they don’t, or the refrigeration systems here are not as good, or both.
It literally took me about 4 days to shop and find everything, and some things could never be found here in Arezzo. Fresh cranberries and pecan halves were an example, but luckily I discovered that beforehand and Zach and Agata “imported” them from Poland. The so-called “sweet potatoes” they have here, are nothing like ours so I’ll have to correct that somehow for the next time, as that was the only thing that was not so good. Perhaps we’ll have to import those from Poland next time too.
Poor Zach had to make many trips back to my house for ingredients I had forgotten to bring to Tiziana’s house. The vanilla extract, that I had to search for high and low at stores here, (it’s different from ours, by the way, it’s thicker), never made it into the pecan pie as I had forgotten it and Zach couldn’t make in time to bring it over and the pie had to go into the oven and be out, so the turkey could get in.
I made the pie crust first and I guess I was still a little sleepy. I was able to borrow measuring cups from Cristina’s kitchen, but I left the one cup measure in my dishwasher and thought the ½ cup measure I had brought with me was the one cup measure so the pie crust had only half the amount of flour that it should have had!! AUGHHH!!!
They were very buttery!!
So needless to say, I was a nervous wreck. And, the turkey was done 1.5 hours before planned! But it was a DELICIOUS bird. Through Chef Franco here and my friends, I’ve made friends with Marcello the butcher who thinks I’m just the funny Americana. He speaks no English and my Italian now, even with lessons, is poco. He calls Chef Franco or Tiziana to find out what I really want, but he always gives me the best and also moves me up in the line in his shop, much to the ire of the other Italian women, and offers tastes of things to me – which is not often done here.
Bianca, Tiziana’s daughter, likes to drink martini’s and I love them too but I would not normally have one before such a big dinner but by the time cocktail hour started at 7:30 and I had been working since 8:30 am and 4 days before, I said, “what the hell – let’s have one!”
So between starting with martinis and the gorgeous bottle of 2007 Amarone (that has a very high alcohol content) that Franco (another Franco) brought, along with a lovely bottle of Vin Santo from Andrea, by the end of the evening, I was notably smashed – and then they surprised me with singing Happy Birthday right after midnight and a lovely gift, and flowers, and candied chestnuts, and I also received a surprise delivery of extremely gorgeous flowers and chocolates from my son and daughter-in-law in NYC. It was crazy good!!
So you can see it was quite an amazing day!!!
The dinner, I must admit, was spectacular. Zach said, “Best turkey ever!!” Marcello outdid himself. And, EVERYTHING else tasted amazing because the ingredients here are SO, SO GOOD!!! Everything! So Agata said, no matter where we are living in the future, we should always have Thanksgiving here in Tuscany!!
The apples and sausage and bread in the stuffing, the oranges from Napoli in the cranberries, even the cranberries from Poland, the baby butternut squashes for the soup were so, so sweet – it was all so amazing!!
Again, I don’t know what we have done to our food supply in the US, but here, everything tastes SO GOOD!!!! And of course, I added a lot of LOVE!!
I hope you enjoy these crazy pictures and videos!