I’m going to be honest, when I knew I was going to be studying abroad during one of my all-time favorite holidays, I was disheartened. Stuffing is one of my top favorite foods, how was I going to go to a country and not be able to celebrate a day that encourages me to eat platefuls of it?? But somehow, we managed to make a smaller version of a Thanksgiving meal, and I couldn’t be happier with the way that it all worked out.
The great thing about Germany is that most of the food that we all love and cherish in the U.S. can be found in grocery stores – give or take a few Dorito’s flavors and Stouffer’s frozen meals. But you get the point. Just walking around the store deciding on what we even wanted to add to our Thanksgiving menu stressed me out so much that I was 100% ready to just throw in the towel and order some Domino’s. Luckily, my friends were more than determined to enjoy a traditional dinner, so I wasn’t able to give up so quickly.
We were able to make (most of) the essentials: mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and even Pillsbury biscuits. We also surprisingly found a full turkey in a store, but decided that it would take much too long to bake, so we settled on chicken as a solid substitute. We had a blast preparing and cooking our meal together, getting to spend much needed wholesome fun with one another while trying to recreate one of America’s most cherished holidays. It brought the feeling and warmth of home alive in our little kitchen, for even just a couple of treasured hours.
But the best part of the night was when other international students and Mannheim students joined us in tasting our meal. Because none of them were born or grew up in the U.S., we taught them about the history and purpose of Thanksgiving, all while enjoying a meal with them that they had never tasted before. It was definitely a unique feeling being able to teach others about some of our traditions, since we have generally just been learning all new German ones for the past three months, so it was a welcome and unparalleled change of pace. As I expected, they all equally agreed that the stuffing was by far their favorite part of the meal, bringing joy to my heart.