Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Ukrainian Thanksgiving

In Natalia's pumpkin patch

I learned something else about Ukraine: it has no turkeys. Maybe that's why it doesn't have Thanksgiving.

I found this out when I considered cooking a sample Thanksgiving dinner for Luba. I say "considered" deliberately. I haven't cooked a meal since leaving the States, so this would have been a remarkable effort. Luba would have thought so, too. I think she thinks I can't cook at all.

I went to several stores looking for turkey. No luck. I went to the baazar. Pumpkins, yes. Turkeys, no. Maybe there is frozen turkey somewhere in Starobilsk but I didn't find it, and if I had I wouldn't have bought it because of frozen meat warnings (frozen, unfrozen, re-frozen, and who knows how old).

This is as far as I got with my Thanksgiving meal. Luba did better.

The night before Thanksgiving, I explained to her about our national holiday and our traditional meal. We sat in front of the computer and conversed through Google translate (my Russian still frustratingly elemental). I shared my Thanksgiving blog. I shared some recipes.

Next thing I knew, Luba went to her winter storage cellar and, with a big smile, brought out a beautiful big pumpkin. If it's not canned, I don't know what to do with it. She took charge. She was in the kitchen--command central in every Ukrainian home--peeling, gutting and cutting the pumpkin into small pieces. She coated each piece with sugar, put them on a cookie tray, and.put them in the oven to bake.

A wonderful aroma filled the house. So familiar, so comforting. About 30 minutes later, we shared delicious pumpkin treats with tea and good cheer. We did the same on Thanksgiving evening, while watching president Obama and the national turkey on television.

This was my Ukrainian Thanksgiving. It was special. A new Thanksgiving memory was born.

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