For all of my fellow pilgrims in reverse; those who have set sail from the New World, back to the old, this is for you. I have great news! celebrating a proper Thanksgiving in the Fatherland has never been easier. I remember past Thanksgivings in München as exhausting scavenger hunts. In this pre Toy Town Germany, secret knowledge was passed from expat to expat in a kind of oral tradition; “You can get Pecans at Hertie”, “I know someone who is retired military that can get you canned pumpkin from the military base in Garmisch” “There is a website from the UK where you can order American brown sugar”
Contrast that with today. We’re celebrating with friends properly on Sunday, but I decided, on a whim, to whip up a little Turkey day dinner for just me and my husband tomorrow night. Here’s what I did.
Dialed up Stefani’s Geflügelparadies and asked them if they had any whole turkey breasts. Kein problem! I have ordered my whole Truthahns from them for years now (order early!), and they have always served me in good stead. Plus they are proof positive that you can get good, friendly customer service in Germany (and in Bavaria, no less!) Always a friendly ‘Grüss Gott!’ and a smile. I picked up my turkey breast an hour later.
I strolled through the Viktualienmarkt. You could get most of your ingredients at the regular Supermarkt, or at Vinzenzmurr (for the Turkey) but why would you do that, when the Viktualienmarkt is so much more fun and festive?
I picked up Pecans (Pekannusskern) at the little nut and spice booth on the backside of the big Turkish olive booth.
Then I went to my favorite vegetable stand and picked up some green beans, Sußkartoffel (sweet potatoes), mehlige kartoffel (floury potatoes) and Cranberries. For the last few years Cranberries have started showing up in the regular supermarkets like clockwork towards the end of October. They have funny labels on them that say things like ‘Die Power-Beeren aus den USA’ (‘The power berries from the U.S.A.‘ Needless to say, the berries we export are the powerful kind, USA! USA!)
It’s a commentary on the infux of American expats in Munich that the sellers at the vegetable stand take one look at me, my order of Cranbeeren und Süßkarttoffel and then merrily wish me a ‘Happy Zanksgeeveenk!’
I didn’t need any brown sugar because I brought a contraband megapack back the last time I was Stateside. In a pinch you can use the Thai brown sugar that you can get in the Asiamarkts, or rumor has it that British shop Pomeroy & Winterbottom on Reichenbachstrasse carries American brown sugar (and on their website, much to my squealing delight, I just learned they carry Hellmann’s/Best Food’s mayonnaise! Perfect for post-Tday turkey sandwiches!)
Over the years I’ve learned that the German word for Allspice is ‘Piment’ and that you can take that, some Muscat (nutmeg) and a bit of a cinnamon stick and throw it in a coffee grinder to make a passable pumpkin pie spice. Chestnuts are plentiful, certainly more plentiful then in Los Angeles where I grew up. If you want cornbread you can always buy a little polenta and bake a batch, and things like maple syrup are easily come by in the regular markets. The weather is cold, crisp and very Autumn-y which helps create a cozy, Thanksgiving-y mood.
So that’s it! Everything for a Thanksgiving dinner collected in less than an hour!
I have found that Thanksgiving is really the holiday where Americans come together here (unless you consider presidential elections a holiday). Ironically there ends up being multiple Thanksgiving celebrations spanning the actual day all the way to Sunday, and we usually have to turn down at least one invitation.
Except for missing my family back home, I have really grown to love celebrating Turkey day in München. The only other thing I have to figure out is where to get canned pumpkin, and although there is an abundance of local Hokkaido pumpkins, they don’t really work in a pie. Anybody know someone in the Army?