Thanschka's blog

The adventures of Stephenie, American-raised Cantonese-speaking Chinese girl, and Chris, American boy of French-Irish decent with a Polish name, getting married, moving to Hong Kong and experiencing life.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving in Hong Kong

It's officially the evening after Thanksgiving in Hong Kong and I'm happily eating a big bowl of stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. Yesterday marked one of the best - top ten at least - Thanksgiving celebrations in memory, which given that it was not spent with family, is an amazing thing. I took the day off and hosted a big, traditional Thanksgiving dinner with our good friend Marian for a group of 20 friends, 70% of whom are not from the states. Being Irish, she'd never done Thanksgiving before so we went all out. She headed up the decorating committee with my help and I was the head chef with her help. And it was fabulous.

This is what I learned:
  • You can rent practically anything in HK and have it delivered
  • Only in Hong Kong are silk table cloths and runners disposable
  • Chinese florists will think you're crazy if you ask for a cornucopia but if you're persistant, you can find one here
  • If you send a non-American to buy Thanksgiving napkins and they don't see anything with a turkey on it, you get American flag napkins
  • Arts and crafts can be a party game. Especially if combined with booze
  • If Shelly asks if she can help and you say "make pilgrim hats," it sounds like you said "turkey hats," which end up being so much better
  • Ridiculous hats are fantastic ice-breakers and name tags
  • Not a single person we've befriended in HK take themselves very seriously - hence the success of ridiculous hats (which didn't come off until the end of the night - including after the cab ride home)
  • Cooking for 20 with no oven requires a lot of teamwork and a little creativity
  • Cooking thanksgiving for british and irish friends who have never had thanksgiving and don't have nostalgic memories of how "mom made it" is so much less pressure
  • It's possible to use 4 pounds of butter and 3 quarts of cream for one meal
  • Salt looks an awful lot like sugar...
  • 8 bottles of Champagne for 20 people is not enough; 2 turkeys is too much
  • You can never offer too many different kinds of pie
  • Making gravy from chicken pan drippings isn't quite the same; but still very edible
  • If you make 5 kinds of mashed potatoes, people will try every kind
  • I don't like green bean casserole; never have; never will; but I will make it if you do
  • If one more person mentions Monica Geller, I will swear off entertaining for an entire year
  • Being able to pay someone to clean up after Thanksgiving dinner is the best part of living in HK

"It's tradition"

Now I'm happily sitting in my now clean flat with a bowl empty of leftovers reliving the fun from last night. My one anxiety is that there are now a bunch of water-cooler conversations going on in Hong Kong that go something like this:

"I am exhausted. I went to this great traditional Thanksgiving celebration last night. It was my first one."

"Thanksgiving huh? Isn't that just the American excuse to sit around and eat?"

"Yeah, there was a ton of food. But did you know they wear turkey hats, make paper turkeys to put on the wall, and watch reruns of old Superbowl games."

"They wear turkey hats?

"Yeah, it's tradition. Check out these pictures!"

You can check out the pictures too if you keep scrolling down and see why it was one of the best Thanksgivings ever.

On the menu last night:

  • Two turkeys
  • Ham
  • Green bean casserole
  • Brussel sprouts sauteed with bacon
  • Steamed brussel sprouts and carrots
  • Mushroom stuffing
  • Sweet potatoes and acorn squash with cognac syrup
  • Regular mashed potatoes
  • Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  • Curry mashed potatoes
  • Mashed potatoes with scallions
  • Col Cannon (Irish mashed potatoes)
  • Cranberry-Apple relish
  • Gravy
  • Bread sauce (some Irish or British kind of gravy)
  • Ambrosia fruit salad (remember that cool whip/fruit/cocunut number that was so popular in the 80's?)
  • Pears stewed in wine
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Blueberry pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Apple pie
  • Mince meat pie

Photo recap:

The table Is Set:

Cornucopia Centerpiece

Your T-Day Hosts

Turkey Hats Made by Shelly

Mr. and Mrs. Turkey

Arts and Crafts: Making Contruction Paper "What I'm Thankful For" Turkeys

Wall of Turkey


Everyone Wore Their Turkey Hats All Night Long

And Lastly, for Moms and Dads: Your Children


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