Wednesday, 21 November 2012
The kitchen smells like magic.
The days are gray now, and the mornings misty. I am holed up indoors, in the two rooms we keep heated with the woodstove. All this morning, I baked fruit pies. Thursday is Thanksgiving, the big American holiday, one of my very favorites. We have people coming over, or at least we have invited some. We will feast, as is fitting for Thanksgiving.
And here in rural Spain, cooking a traditional American meal requires substantial ducking and diving and substituting, because many key ingredients just don´t exist here. I have to make do, or make it up from scratch. As a result we eat a whole lot less processed food, and we appreciate the rare, holiday-only treats I have been saving things up for. Like blueberry pie. I made an actual blueberry pie today, with blueberries from jars I found, by sheer luck, in the discount bin at a German grocery down in Malaga. I snatched them up and brought them home and saved them for today. I didn´t have quite enough, so I dug out a packet of dehydrated blueberries a kindly pilgrim brought here for me. I soaked them in white wine and threw them in the mix. I lined the bottom of the pie with a layer of apple slices. We shall see.
But there´s champagne, to serve with smoked trout and boquerones and goat cheese to coat with Balsamic cream -- sharp/sweet/smoky flavors for starters.
We have carrots and onions and red peppers, and sugar and oil and vinegar, and crushed up tomatoes all marinating together to make Copper Pennies -- a lot of those veg I grew here myself.
We have lovely Brussels Sprouts, holiday food for Englishmen.
We have Granny Smith apples. I made a big Dutch apple pie today with those.
Maybe best of all, this year I grew three pumpkins out back. One became a jack-o-lantern. This morning the second became two lovely pumpkin pies. (The third has not turned orange yet. I am saving him for soup.)
Turkeys are out of season. I asked at three different fowl butchers yesterday in Palencia, and was told I would have to order one. They will come in time for Christmas. No. Instead I bought seven fine pichones -- squabs. Young pigeons. Each diner will have his own entire bird to eat, so we won´t have to fuss about white meat or dark. I tracked down celery and walnuts and several kinds of whole-meal bread, so I can make proper stuffing for the little guys. No cranberries, though. Those are almost as rare as blueberries. And no fresh sage -- my herb garden fell victim to the new terrace project.
No sweet potatoes. No marshmallows, no cream of mushroom soup to make green bean casserole, alas!
Still, another cause for thanksgiving is the people coming. They are (if everyone shows up) a German, a Spaniard, an Italian, an Englishman, and a French lady. Only one other American. Almost none of them has ever eaten a Thanksgiving feast before.
They won´t know what´s missing!