Wednesday, December 9, 2015

THANKSGIVING SLOVENE-STYLE




Where did these five days go? I couldn't exactly say, since I've been in the timeless land of grandparenthood. Thanksgiving happens to coincide with our son's birthday, so we tried to bring this most American of holidays to his home in Slovenia where turkeys, except for us, are in short supply. To round up the ingredients was a challenge. Lots of flexibility and many substitutions were necessary. Just try finding "corn syrup" in the Slovene dictionary. (We ended up with something called "Dick Juice." I am not making this up!) 
Other untranslatables: buttermilk, vegetable shortening, and sour cream. A few more examples of cultural difference:

1. Turkey? Shmurkey! A leftover-loving family, when in America, we usually get the biggest bird available. Slovenia does not know from Butterball, but our son was reassured by the village butcher that a turkey would materialize. And so it did, but with all due respect, it looked more like a not-so-big chicken. Could that little thing possibly feed nine adults?

As Spencer Tracy said about Katherine Hepburn in "Pat and Mike":
 "There's not much meat on her, but what's there is 'cherce'!"


2.Pecan pie? Oops! No Slovene has ever seen a pecan, so make that walnut, instead.

3.Ready-made pie crusts? Huh? OK, Jim who, when in his own kitchen makes his own pie crust, needed a short cut. He found a packaged dough that looked good, but his Slovene wasn't up to reading that it was filo (not pie) dough. Double oops! (Definitely not a recommended substitution!)

4.And no pie tins, either? Well, we tried a cheesecake pan. Triple oops! We ended up removing the entire burnt crust and serving the whole thing in a mug. We threw some ice cream on top, thereby turning it into sort of a walnut parfait, and calling the resulting mess an American custom. To our surprise, everyone loved it and asked for the recipe! 

When in doubt, just throw some ice cream on top!


There were plenty of linguistically comical moments, too, given that in our daughter-in-law's wonderful family, English is in as short supply as turkey and cranberries, but it all worked out fine. A very useful Slovene phrase to know is “Sem cist nabasana,” which means “I am stuffed!”  Or the equally useful, “Prevec sem pojedla” (“I ate too much!”). With two adorable granddaughters to oggle over, and three generations of really nice people in relatively good health, we have a lot to be thankful for. I really like the blessing that offers thanks "for permitting us to reach this hour."

THIS NEXT BIT IS A QUIZ

The day before the big holiday feast, here's what we ate for lunch:

A Pain Killer
An Overdose
2 Steak Beets
A Boston Butt

What could all that be?

If you guessed American-style hamburgers, you're right! Slovenia may not stuff a lot of turkeys, but the little burger stand in the local shopping center parking lot turns out some super-exciting burgers! For some reason, I keep forgetting the name of the "Overdose Burger" (a triple burger with cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato and more).  I seem to want to call it the "Overindulgence Burger." But then again, I'd never order that. Just give me the Steak Burger with beets and I'm thankful.

CODA
As a precaution, before posting this, I sent it to our cousin who has a way with words and a good sense of humor. She gave it a thumbs up, but added, “I am sure that you carried off the Thanksgiving Attempt (TA) with much aplomb, I just hope that the master chef HIMSELF was not too abashed. Serving everything in a mug is sure to catch on in Slovenia, but we should name it something to give it the panache it deserves. I don't believe that you should have high hopes for 'Dick Juice.'"


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