I ate Thanksgiving turkey twice on Thursday — first when I usually eat breakfast, then for dinner.
The early meal was for a television story on TVR Moldova explaining our holiday to viewers across Moldova and Romania. Cătălina Russu, a television reporter who lives in Ialoveni, invited me to join her as she broadcast a live story from Jeraffe, one of Chișinău’s top restaurants.
As her story began, as shown in the first clip above (also on YouTube), we discussed Thanksgiving foods and traditions while the chef, Nestor Perez, prepared a turkey roll stuffed with herbs and butter. I had not previously met Nestor, who lived in America for many years after leaving Venezuela and now lives here with his Moldovan wife. After our first segment, we all took a break and then moved from the kitchen to a table to eat the cooked turkey with pistachio-infused rice.
I shared my own Thanksgiving menu (seen here) with Cătălina and showed her how American kids use their fingers to make turkey pictures for placemats. The highlight, though, was Nestor’s food, shown in the second clip above (also on YouTube). It was fabulous despite the early hour. You can see for yourself in Cătălina’s story, which is easy to follow even if you don’t speak Romanian.
As soon as her second segment was finished, the cameraman and another reporter pulled up chairs so they could try the turkey, too. By 9:30 a.m., I was done and heading back to Ialoveni by bus to prepare the next round. (Around the same time, my Peace Corps Volunteer colleague Anne was discussing Thanksgiving on another television program here.)
I bought the turkey for our meal from a local farmer, who delivered it on Wednesday to our host mother. I found sweet potatoes at a downtown store. Champa discovered dried cranberries in the market, which I cooked with juice and brandy to make a sauce. One of our local stores now sells Parmesan cheese, so I bought some and combined it with mashed potatoes in a casserole. For my peach pie, I used slices of local peaches we’d bought last summer and froze. We made cookies with chocolate chips and brown sugar we bought when we were home last summer. We bought the Armenian and Georgian wine during our recent trip there.
We were prepared, in other words, and had even finished the desserts and some other items earlier in the week. Our host family and a Peace Corps Volunteer from Minnesota, Cindy, arrived in the evening. We then ate too much, laughed too much and went around the table to each say why we give thanks.
It was such a lovely day. The only thing that could have been better would have been sharing Thanksgiving with our family back home, who we missed even more than usual throughout the day. We’re thankful we will be back together with them next year — and thankful to have found another wonderful family while we’re here.