Thanksgiving Abroad

Thanksgiving feels rather elusive when you live outside Canada or the United States. Having experienced the holiday on two different continents that weren’t North America, I have had the pleasure of tasting two foreign culinary attempts at the annual meal.

Here are my reviews of the two Thanksgiving meals I’ve had abroad thus far.


Spain, 2012

spanish-thanksgiving

When I was living in Madrid, two of my roommates at the time (I had five of them) were studying at the local campus of an American university. Being an American university with American students, they made the natural choice to host their own Thanksgiving dinner for students and locals alike.

However, I learned that sometimes it’s worth forgoing a tradition if you have to thaw out a majority of your meal. I hate to say it, but that glop of cream on the left-hand side of my clearly filtered photo is mashed potatoes. (And yes, the consistency was just as smooth as it looked.)

The orangey-yellow liquid in the bowl was pumpkin soup, which actually wasn’t that bad, along with the apple pie substitute known as the strawberry cheesecake in the upper lefthand corner.

But I have to hand it to whichever confused Spaniard prepared this meal. After all, the food we eat on Thanksgiving is freakin’ weird. My dad’s side is Italian, and he tells us every now and then how strange the idea of not only eating pumpkin, but also putting it in a pie is bizarre to many of his relatives (and him, for that matter.)


South Korea, 2015

(Not pictured: South Korean Thanksgiving)

A coworker of mine hosted a get-together at her apartment the Sunday following Thanksgiving. It was a potluck, so with the majority of us being North American, we were able to make our side dishes and desserts more authentic. There was little to no thawing of vegetables or meats for this meal, which meant that we thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Needless to say, the tryptophan really kicked in by the end of the meal, leaving us in a large, sloth-like pile of lethargy on our hostess’ floor.

Oddly enough, the Thanksgiving meal that took place furthest away from North America ended up being closer to the real thing. That’s either a testament to the motivation of those who contributed or the wide selection at Emart.


No matter how lame or fantastic the meal, having Thanksgiving abroad reminded me once again of what the holiday is trying to get at. Unlike Thanksgivings of yore, (including one where I gave thanks for my purple Levi jeans,) it was truly a time to bond with my fellow foreigners and be grateful for the opportunity to see other parts of the world.

Featured image via Unsplash

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