Thanksgiving Abroad

By Whitley Arens ‘11Personally, I was always one of those of the mind that Thanksgiving is much over-looked in America due to the impending “Christmas Craziness” that begins sometime, depending on region and personal-enthusiasm level, around November 1. 

However, spending this semester studying abroad in England has kind of put this into perspective. Obviously, there is no Thanksgiving here. So Christmas—complete with shopping displays, catchy commercials and, as of just last week, streets lined with Christmas lights—has been plugging ahead at full speed since early November.

Still, in the midst of it all, the American visiting students at Regent’s Park College were able to pull together a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner so that the tradition wouldn’t go completely uncelebrated.

Having a classically-American Thanksgiving while studying in Oxford certainly sounds touching and sweet, but finding the correct ingredients for non-English dishes is really more of a challenge than anything else.

For instance, senior Stacy Durham, a GC student also studying at Oxford, had planned to make a from-scratch red velvet cake for this little extravaganza.

What began as merely a lofty goal of deliciousness turned into quite the ordeal. To be on the safe side, we decided a trial-run was in order. This ended up requiring about an hour-long frantic grocery store scavenger hunt. The result of this experiment was a pink velvet cake
with a little too little cake and a little too much icing.

Several things became evident. One: we needed more food coloring. And two: we needed more cake for the icing. For some reason, red food coloring is over twice as expensive as the other colors. So, after much debate, we decided that a purple velvet cake would not only be much more regal, but also much cheaper.

Thus, our plan for Thanksgiving Day was clear—a purple velvet cake with the amount of cake batter doubled to balance with the delectable cream cheese icing.

Unsurprisingly, we encountered another hitch in our culinary scheme. Red food coloring, in addition to being more costly, is also just a pansy. The blue food coloring completely overtook it and the resulting cake was
..well, blue.

Also, finding a time to bake said cake was interesting, considering life doesn’t just shut down over here so everyone can go and eat turkey. The amazing blue confection ended up being created by two sleep-deprived and slap-happy girls at approximately 4 a.m.

Nevertheless, though the final product—though somewhat visually appalling—was very, very yummy and enjoyed by everyone.

Also, when Thanksgiving dinner finally commenced, I found that almost everyone had a similar story: about a scramble for ingredients and a finished dish that wasn’t quite what they had intended.

Ordeals and color mix-ups aside, Thanksgiving dinner was a success. We managed to have most of the traditional dishes. I think the only thing we were missing was a pumpkin pie.

And in the end, it was precisely what a Thanksgiving should be: a group of friends, sitting down to a meal together and being thankful for each other’s company. Even if they were eating blue cake.

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