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How an Expat Recreates Thanksgiving in Australia

Where: Australia
November 21, 2012 at 4:58 PM | by | Comments (2)

While many of you are making plans to head out of town for a long holiday weekend, filling up on turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, there are some who will try to recreate the feast on the shores of a different country, thousands of miles away from home. Sometimes it's not much different than previous Thanksgivings in the US, but some things just have to change due to location and availability of traditional fare.

I am American expat living in Australia and, for the past 2 years I have tried to recreate the Thanksgivings I remember. The flavors and feelings are based on holidays I spent growing up just outside Chicago, with a great chill in the air and the smell of leaf decay wafting inside every time the door opened. As you can imagine, Australia is a long way off from the frozen tundra of the Midwest.

What is easiest for a Thanksgiving Down Under:
· Just like Americans, Aussies love a reason to gather around the table with friends and family to celebrate. I find it very easy to rally my friends for the feast.
· Sport dominates the TV during the day. It's obviously not a holiday in Australia, but it is easy to find some cricket or flashback footy (rugby) to act as the backdrop entertainment.
· Alcohol plays a central part to any gathering. Crack a bottle of wine, a stubby or a can of beer. Either way we have a blast and don't drink Fosters (because Aussies don't).

What we found challenging for a Thanksgiving Down Under:
· There is an obvious weather difference. It's just coming into summer in the Land Down Under, more specifically, Brisbane. Having the oven on for half the day really battles with the air conditioning that tries to keep the house cool and comfortable.
· This came as a shock my first year: turkeys are not easily accessible! I remember grocery stores giving them away with a total bill of $100 or more in the US. Not in Australia; I have paid in excess of $100 just to have the "meat centerpiece." Oh, and Australians are horrified with the idea of a TurDuckEn or a deep fried turkey.
· Aside from the bird, finding side dishes is just as challenging. We're talking no green-bean casserole since the onions are a no-go. No Cool-Whip for your pie; it doesn't exist down here. Cranberries for sauce are very rare and would never be served with meat and there are no foods flavored with pumpkin except pumpkins. Sorry, no pumpkin ale or lattes.
· Speaking of pies...if you have ever been to Australia, you know that meat pies are the thing. Sweet dessert pies are very rare, with the exception of apple pie (which I really think is most American of all).
·The stuffing is arguably one of the more popular side dishes for the day and everyone has their own recipe, even in Australia. The difference here is it acts as a seasoning for the bird and not an actual dish to load up your plate. It gets thrown away—GASP!

As you can plainly see, the fourth Thursday of November is just another day here in Oz. With all of these challenges, we may need to alter the menu and cook some lamb on the BBQ with a side of fresh prawns and a huge pavlova with fresh tropical fruit for dessert. It will not only keep the temperature down in the house, but it just may start a new tradition.

Wherever you may find yourself this Thanksgiving, please make sure you make the best of it, enjoy it, and embrace any differences. It's great living in a small world with the ability to travel and take part in new experiences, and that is one thing for which I am very thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

[Photo: amy is the party/flickr]

Comments (2)

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I can understand how you feel living far away from your motherland especially on the festivals. But Australians are a real sport when it comes to making people feel at home. I do not celebrate Thanksgiving like you guys do in the US, but it definitely gives me a reason to celebrate with my close friends and family. Plus, this day has such a beautiful meaning. There are so many people we are grateful to and here is the opportunity to show them our gratitude in a memorable way. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Cheers!

Now there more thankfulness

You're words are sweet. Thanks for this. You are completely right, Aussies are warm and always willing to help a mate. In the last 2 years, I have had various offers to help with potluck to make the event easier on me. It's times like those that I'm thankful for the people that surround me. Now, if there is a a way I can get Cool Whip and Durkee onions. ;) thanks again!

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