Our Second Thanksgiving in El Salvador

Thanksgiving, place settings, seasonal decorationsIt’s been a week and I’m sufficiently recovered from Thanksgiving overindulgence that it’s OK for me to be writing this post today. This Thanksgiving marked our second Thanksgiving in El Salvador. It was also our second Thanksgiving in the Foreign Service and our second Thanksgiving as a married couple.The biggest milestone: It was the first Thanksgiving Kail and I have hosted.Thanksgiving, place settings, seasonal decorationsWe like to entertain so hosting dinner parties is no big feat for us. Thanksgiving isn’t just any old dinner party though. And a formal dinner for 10 is larger than any previous group we’d hosted. In addition to Kail and me and my in-laws, we invited some friends from the embassy — Americans and Salvadoran — and our empleada to celebrate with us.Thanksgiving, place settings, seasonal decorationsSeasonal decor, courtesy of my mother-in-law.The menu included: cheese (goat, brie and emmental) and crackers, oven-roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, salad, bread, pecan pie, flan, chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies. We had a lot of food and a lot of leftovers.Thanksgiving, turkeyThe turkey turned out surprisingly well given that it was our first attempt at cooking a Thanksgiving turkey — an 18.5-pound one, at that! I consulted a few recipes online and decided that, for this go-around, simple was better. With the help of my in-laws (actually they did this entire step), we dry-brined the turkey 24 hours in advance, seasoning it with salt, pepper and crushed bay leaves and then wrapping it in plastic wrap.Thanksgiving, mashed potatoesGarlic and mascarpone mashed potatoes. Except in lieu of mascarpone I used cream cheese, what Kail calls “the poor man’s mascarpone.”On Thanksgiving morning, we (and by “we” I mean “Kail” because ew, raw poultry) rinsed the entire bird and then coated it — inside and out — in butter and a spice mixture of sage, rosemary and thyme. I won’t say how much butter but it was a lot. Let’s just say that in the course of preparing all the Thanksgiving dishes, I used 5-6 sticks of butter. We popped that guy in the oven and about 3.5 hours later, it was done.Thanksgiving, green bean casseroleHonestly, I don’t even like turkey that much. For me, Thanksgiving is all about the sides and desserts. I love me some postres. But I was quite proud after the following exchange:

Kail, trying a couple bites of turkey as he carved it, in a tone of disbelief: This is actually good.Me: Good! Did you really think it would be that bad?Kail: Yeah.

Thanksgiving, sweet potato casseroleSweet potato pie, made by Christina.Our strategy had been to not ruin the turkey and, even if it didn’t taste that good, distract guests with the abundance of delicious buttery and cheesy and sugary other foods. But it turns out we didn’t really need to do that.Thanksgiving, pecan piePecan pie, also made by Christina.We prepared/provided all the dishes except the sweet potato and pecan pies (pictured above) and the other desserts: a chocolate cake from Le Croissant (thanks Juan!), a flan de queso from Chez André (thanks Ruben and Issa!) and homemade chocolate chip cookies (thanks Phil!).Thanksgiving, chocolate cake, le croissantSo you see that when I said we had a lot of food and a lot of leftovers I was not exaggerating. We sent tupperware containers and plates home with everyone — in some cases, 2 or 3 or 4 servings — and still had enough food for the four of us (Kail, me and my in-laws) to enjoy repeat Thanksgiving meals, turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches and desserts galore for several days.Thanksgiving, flan de quesoI’m not complaining though! We had a great time both preparing the meal and enjoying it with our guests. Everyone left full, with leftovers in hand, and it was a nice to be “at home” with family and friends here in El Salvador.How was your Thanksgiving?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

5 thoughts on “Our Second Thanksgiving in El Salvador

  1. Wow!!!! I think you need to give yourself some major props for all that cooking! 🙂 I hope you had a good holiday! It’s my favorite holiday by far. Happy December!! (My mouth is still watering at that green bean casserole…..yum!)

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