Sunday, November 22, 2009

What's Thanksgiving like for an American in the UK, and a Brit in the US?

Mike:

For American expats living in the UK, Thanksgiving is a mixed bag. It can be joyful, nostalgic, sad and frustrating all at once. Certainly, it is not a day most Americans let go by unnoticed. It brings with it the joy of the season, and the bittersweet memories of Thanksgivings past. Then it reminds you of how far away from home you are, and for some of us, for how long. And finally it makes you realize that you are surrounded by people who don’t share your memories of this day, who have no idea what it is about and don’t understand when you try to explain it to them, and who refuse to understand your passion for pumpkin pie.

And then you try to make dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner in the UK is an exercise in futility. You tell yourself, when you are forced to make the first substitution (a real turkey won’t fit in your oven so you buy just a breast), that it won’t make that much of a difference. Then another substitution (this one involving stuffing) forces its way in and before you know it you’re serving up more apologies than meals as you treat your friends and family to a “real” Thanksgiving Dinner.

If you managed to find any, your guests will be looking suspiciously at the creamed corn and struggling to stifle remarks about how it looks like someone already ate it. They will wonder why you are making such a big deal over the missing drumsticks and how having cranberry sauce from Marks and Spencer’s could possibly ruin a meal considering it sounds so much better than the stuff you are describing that comes out of a can.

And then, after the bravest among them have joined you for the pumpkin pie and whipped cream dessert, they will ask, “Is that it?” and you will have to agree that it is, and understand that you are still alone in “getting” it.

So you finish the pumpkin pie on your own and tell yourself that, next year, you’ll just go to Pizza Express for dinner.


Toni:

It’s a bit weird being an expat in the US at this time of year.
“What are you doing for the holiday weekend?” usually gets a blank stare from me even after almost twenty years here.
“Oh Thanksgiving” (with emphasis on the second syllable, please note). “Not much really”, I reply to looks of disbelief mixed with pity.
When you’re not brought up with Thanksgiving, or anything remotely like it, it’s easy to miss the gravitas that this “holiday” has. Most of the time it completely sneaks up on me and I run around at the last minute, gathering up other expat waifs and strays for a big meal.
For many Americans however, Thanksgiving is more of a family affair than Christmas. Fortunately we have a teeny family here and we’re seeing them at Christmas so the pressure is off. It also helps that my husband travels a lot on business so the last thing he has ever wanted to do was take a flight at THE busiest travel time of the year with three kids in tow. Flight prices are ridiculous, the airports are packed, and of course the weather is usually at its most un-co-operative.
Friends of mine are already fretting about how to make peace with the brother-in-law from hell who got drunk and shouted at everyone last year, or the fact that they are guilted into staying in their parents’ house even though there’s no room for all the kids. Happy families indeed!
This year, for some reason, husband is going berserk and doing the entire meal himself, from scratch. I keep popping my head into the kitchen to see if there’s “anything I can do”, but apparently it’s all under control. He’s made the cornbread and biscuits (more like unsweetened British scones) for the cornbread stuffing (yee-haw), and has identified his chosen method of brining the turkey, which he will pick up on Wednesday. I will probably end up peeling potatoes like Cinderella, but that’s fine by me.

As long as he doesn’t make that bloody awful green bean casserole I’ll be happy.








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81 comments:

  1. I was dead set against doing Thanksgiving this year, but then the American in me came out and smacked me upside the head. So, we are doing just a turkey breast and the trimmings (and yes Toni, that does include green bean casserole).

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  2. All I can say is - you lot have a cheek making fun of brussels sprouts!

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  3. We weren't going to do anything but luckily my German friends here have decided to do a turkey and the works - so we get to have our first Thanksgiving dinner, without having to cook one just for the four of us. I've just been to the supermarket and it was mobbed with people buying food - like Christmas Eve in UK...

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  4. This was a great post, I kind of wanted to cry a little for Mike! And I understood where Toni was coming from, since my parents immigrated here from Bangladesh, and they begrudgingly gave my brother and I very traditional Thanksgivings every year, despite being utterly befuddled at the whole affair. I'm especially grateful that they never attempted a very ill-fated Turkey Curry that my relatives in New Jersey tried one year!

    This will be my first Thanksgiving away from the US, as I will be in London on a long layover en route to Cape Town, South Africa. I am so sad about it, even though I'm a vegetarian for Pete's sake, and I eat Tofurkey every year with aplomb (you think green bean casserole is bad...)! Since I'm just going to be hanging out in London for 9 hours by myself, I don't think I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving in any way this year, and it will be so weird!

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  5. You should take yourself off to one of the American restaurants in London - they're bound to be doing a special although my husband tells me they usually bear no resemblence to the real thing.

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  6. Actually, I have no plans whatsoever for Thanksgiving this year. If I'm not travelling again (and having a pub meal in a Harvester's or something) I'll be doing my usual Thursday night thing--dropping my wife off at her art class and going out for a curry and a beer.

    We are having our in-laws over for Sunday lunch on the weekend, so I'll cook up a turkey leg with some stuffing and we'll pretend that's Thanksgiving.

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  7. Mike, make your own dressing (it's always "dressing" not "stuffing" in the South): bread cubes, onions, celery, butter, sage, and anything else you fancy thrown in.

    Will always remember the smell of onions and celery cooking gently in butter at Granny's house on Thanksgiving morning. She'd get up at 5 to dress the bird and put the old boy in a slow oven to be ready noon-ish. Mmmm.

    There are so many delicious cranberry sauces in UK grocery stores, many with spirits making them even better, that I see no reason to have the American kind. But if that's what you're craving it's easy to do: cranberries, orange juice, sugar. Boil till the berries pop et voila cranberry sauce.

    Brits living in America: we're so pleased to have you here, you are a welcome addition to our patchwork quilt! Please adapt to American customs with good grace, the way you'd want newcomers to Britain to adapt to British customs.

    That includes sarky remarks about green bean cassarole, which is in no way "bloody awful" and do remember that as silly as you think Americans and our drunken brothers in law might be, we do have feelings just as Brits do.

    Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  8. Jill - I usually ignore your "reprimands", but given that this is my blog, I think I'm entitled to voice my opinion on a green bean casserole. Thinking that it's "bloody awful" is hardly a crime against humanity and doesn't qualify as sarcasm on either side of the Pond.

    And look - Quote "Friends of mine are already fretting about how to make peace with the brother-in-law from hell who got drunk and shouted at everyone last year, or the fact that they are guilted into staying in their parents’ house even though there’s no room for all the kids." --- Not a "silly" in sight, and in fact the brother-in-law isn't even American.

    I get that you see the worst in everything I write; you've made that perfectly clear - and yet I continue in my style because, as I've said, it's my blog. I respectfully suggest that if it causes you so much irritation, you spend your time reading blogs that are more palatable to your sensibilities.

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  9. Nice piece chaps!

    But Mike I have to disagree about Brits only having room for a Turkey breast in their oven! I think it's just you mate that needs a larger oven, everyone I know has roasted a 'whole' Turkey for Christmas for donkeys years back home! I however, am a total convert to the joys of pumpkin generally and have fully embraced it in all forms.

    As for this side of things, well I totally agree with Toni about the Green Bean Casserole being 'bloody awful'. As she rightly states, it makes brussel sprouts taste like the best chocolate and that's saying something.

    As for her comment being sarcastic (!!), well I think Jill just proved what most Brits believe - Americans just can't do/don't get our sarcasm!

    Bon appetit to y'all!

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  10. Come on Jill - I mean, I love American cuisine and Americans in general (hell, I married one!), and the US has plenty of foodstuffs to coo over. But - being frank - the green bean casserole is a full frontal assault on all that is good and righteous on this earth. How can a nation that gave us some of the finest chefs known to man take pride in a dish made of tinned beans with mushroom soup and packaged crispy fried onions? And stringy beans, lumpy soup and crispy things that have never even met an onion, at that.

    It's not disrespectful to call it 'bloody awful'...just a sign that Expat Mum's tastebuds are still functioning. In the same way, it would not be disrespectful if you went to the UK and rolled your eyes at the thought of black pudding - personally I believe that pigs blood, pork fat and oats makes for a delicious treat, but I appreciate that Americans have every right to turn up their noses at it.

    If you ask me, green bean casserole is a joke played by Americans on foreigners. No American has ever eaten the stuff, but they quietly laugh behind their hands every year as they wait to see how much the polite non- American will force themselves to eat.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to Jill, Expat Mum, Mike and all the commenters! May your turkey be moist and plentiful, and your green bean casserole ingredients remain firmly in their packaging...

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  11. Brit Gal: We live in a flat with a tiny oven. Not much we can do about that except move. And I don't need a whole turkey that badly.

    As for green bean casserole, it wasn't a tradition in my family so I rarely saw it. And for that, I am truly thankful ;)

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  12. OH no! So, you're saying giving a Brit the recipe for green bean casserole and asking them to bring it as a side was a bad idea for my first Thanksgiving in the UK?
    Shit, just when I thought I was starting to fit in. She'll be scoffing at me as she makes it.

    Oh well, hopefully the creamed spinach will make up for it...

    But, I agree that it is the most frustrating experience as an American trying to cook for Thanksgiving. It took me 4 days to figure out that they call a pie pan a FLAN pan. It's always the things you wouldn't think were different...

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  13. I adore green bean casserole. I think it's one of those culturally-infused tastes; it's more a nostalgia thing than anything. And growing up in the midwest, we were all about casseroles. However, for the record, I also quite like brussels sprouts. What I can't get into are mushy peas, which seem to me something that you would give a child who doesn't have a full complement of teeth yet.

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  14. Jill's comment seemed to me to a model of mildness and politeness, and its call for toleration and respect I found admirable. So I am surprised it met with such spikiness.

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  15. > What I can't get into are mushy peas, which seem to me something that you would give a child who doesn't have a full complement of teeth yet.

    Do you feel the same way about mashed potato?

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  16. Howard - we are talking about green beans here. Green beans. I think we need a blog post about the differences in sense of humo(u)r.

    NFAH - yes, I go back and forth with mushy peas. Mind you, the texture is about the same as mashed sweet potato which I love.

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  17. Lady - I'm sure you'll find a Brit somewhere who likes the green bean casserole ;-)

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  18. Howard, you're a gentleman as always. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    Note that my comments are called "reprimands" but Expat's are "humour" (^_^)

    Funny, speaking of humour, there aren't many humourous comments about how absurd Brits are coming from Expat, very little self-depricating "humour."

    Hmm, dish it out but can't take it? As for Americans not "getting" British sarcasm, that could very well be true but it's my observation that the reverse is true as well.

    But as it's "her blog" I guess my comments in kind aren't welcome, and I'm urged to spend my time on blogs that are more palatable to my sensibilities. Guess I've been issued my walking papers.

    I feel true compassion for Expat, as it's clear that she is unhappy in America and hasn't really acclimated. That must be a difficult situation to live with.

    This post will be deleted, I'm sure, but so be it...

    Happy Green Bean Cassarole Day, y'all!

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  19. I've just been on the phone with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Vegetables whose spokesperson Cassie (must be short for casserole) assures me that I'm entitled to voice my dislike of said green bean casserole and it will not be taken as discrimination of any kind. She also agreed to pass on to green beans everywhere that I like them on their own; it's just the mushroom soup and fried onion ring combination that revolts me. (No doubt the onion branch will be up in arms about that.)
    As for taking the piss out of Brits - my book is full of it. We do it very well and constantly to ourselves.

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  20. Ooh, a Pond Parleys fight...

    I'm going to defend Expat Mum here (even though I've never had green bean casserole); her comments on America are always fair and never unduly critical, and she's willing to put the boot into Brits too when they deserve it. Any regular reader of her blog will know that it's wrong to say she hates America and hasn't acclimatised (which is the word, Jill, by the way). And I'm sure the beans have recovered from being disparaged in such a way!

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  21. Good Lord! I never thought green beans and sprouts could be so exciting. Will return

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  22. "Acclimate" is the word, nappy, by the way:

    "To accustom or become accustomed to a new environment or situation; adapt."

    The definition of "Acclimatise" on the other hand is "To adapt (oneself), especially to environmental or climatic changes."

    Lakeland Jo, yes, it is exciting isn't it?

    Wonder how much longer I'll be allowed to stay?

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  23. "Acclimate" is the word, nappy, by the way:

    "To accustom or become accustomed to a new environment or situation; adapt."

    The definition of "Acclimatise" on the other hand is "To adapt (oneself), especially to environmental or climatic changes."

    Lakeland Jo, yes, it is exciting isn't it?

    Wonder how much longer I'll be allowed to stay?

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  24. Oooh, arguments like this are the perfect preparation for Thanksgiving.

    Come on everyone, calm down, we've all had a drink...

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  25. Crikey, it sounds like my house at christmas time around here. I feel home sick all of a sudden.
    But seriously people, we're taking about vegetables here, there's really no need to get so catty, even if you do like them a lot.
    For myself, sprouts I hate with a passion and will never forgive my mother for insisting that I always eat one every christmas (what was that all about) and going from that I can sympathise with the green been casserole thing. However, like sprout fans, I think green been casserole lovers are perhaps a little spikey after years of abuse over how awful their favourite dish is and tend to take the whole thing a little too seriously.

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  26. LOL.. this is great...first oven that doent fit aturkey..what size turkey do you need....your oven cannot be any smaller than my old Baby belling (google it) and l managed to cook a turkey in it, granted l had to do each half separately, but that was back in the day when I was younger and wanted to impress Larry in our first falt together, c1979...ahhh!!!

    Bean casserole...aw come on now....l do not mean to be rude here, it's just my opinion, but that's just a side order if it veg....come on! it aint no main course unless you are vegan, have a band fitted to your stomach or have no passion for food.

    Thanks giving in USA is marvellous, though it looses points as there are no gifts just shit loads of gratitude...which is very lovely AND l DO mean that from the heart of my bottom..
    thanksgiving in the UK..unfortunately no one l know can build up any enthusiasm...I would if I could star it up...I love it and Christmas is my thanksgiving, a sl am very thankfull for so much...

    great argu....er sorry discussion..

    blew away the cobwebs and I held my breath all the while I was typing..phew...GREAT!!

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  27. Ok I stand corrected on acclimate (although here it says it is rarely used in British English, hence the confusion).http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002500.php

    But you still can't spell...

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  28. Sorry for my double post, have asked Mike to remove.

    And a drink of something sounds just the thing!

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  29. Saz - how much have you had to drink? Look at that spelling!!!

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  30. Good lord! I just caught up on all the malarky on here.
    Who would have thought that vile green bean casserole could stir up such passions!
    Great post Expat & Mike!

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  31. Hey yes - and I have to sit and listen to all the jokes about my beloved brussels sprouts (try them roasted with parmesan sprinkled over the top.) And what about the fabulous fruit cake, which seems to be a national joke here?

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  32. EXPAT Mum: somebody's working their ticket on here and it's not you. A storm in a teacup, a fuss about nowt. Somebody's looking for an argument and I say, don't give 'em one.
    Happy Thanksgiving tho'. and I don't like the looks of g.b. casserole either but being me I'd probably eat it anyway.
    :-))

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  33. I for one sit somewhere in the middle, as a New Zealander who lived for a good part of my twenties in the UK, and now reside in the USA...I think I can add some non-partisan comments here.

    1. green bean casserole is a culinary abomination! It is gross. disgusting. and if I have my way my duel citizen children (NZ/USA) will never have that revolting concoction pass their innocent lips. (am I being to centrist here, let me know)

    2. When i lived in the UK one of my employers had a Thanksgiving feast every year, full turkey, steamed green beans with bacon, and sweet potatoes minus the marshmallows(whats up with that?)...it was lovely, and she always invited her old 'Harvard' friends to enjoy.

    3. We do a very low key Thanksgiving mostly, go to a neighbors home, we have our own interpretations of what to take...pumpkin creme brulee, or sweet potato au gratin...it doesn't have to be a Thanksgiving out of a can!

    4. Marmite rocks.

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  34. Ha ha. Ah yes, Marmite versus Vegemite. Perhaps we could start something about that next. Oops, wrong blog!

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  35. Oh my! I've missed all this, just caught up. I have no comment on Thanksgiving, having never lived in the states, only the UK. But thank you, I've just laughed myself silly reading this. I've never, ever read people get so worked up about someone saying that they dislike a food! And what the hell is going on with Jill??!!? OVER reaction or what? Everyone should have another drink (FFF...put the glass down, hysterically funny comment) and give thanks for....

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  36. Wow, remind me to post about green bean casserole next Thanksgiving!

    Like many of you, having lived on both sides of the pond and with family members of both lovely nationalities, I am quick to point out that both cultures have their fair share of "icky" dishes.

    I do not and have never liked green bean casserole. Heck, I don't even like green beans so the idea of smothering them in a "fungus" soup makes me want to gag. The same could be said for brussel sprouts, especially when they are swimming in vinegar, which is how some Americans choose to cook them. I also don't understand sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows. Why don't I just grab a straw and snort a pound of sugar? I mean really, SWEET potatoes aren't sweet enough for ya?

    At the same time I have no interest in eating blood pudding, pickled eggs, or faggots, although I have tried Haggis and it wasn't bad at all. Really. Even Brits scoff at some of their own dishes, just as I scoff at American ones. Nothing unhealthy about that.

    It all comes down to what we grew up with. When I met my son's father he could not believe that I drank iced tea. It was as if I had committed a felony. This was 20 years ago and now Britain has iced tea and guess what? He loves it AND with lots of sugar. Even I don't drink it with sugar.

    I've been reading this wonderful blog since it began and I have never felt that Toni or Mike have been disrespectful to either culture.

    Well done both of you.

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  37. I just wanted to give big props to Meg (LadyWhoLunches)for asking her English guest to prepare green bean casserole. That was a classic LOL moment for me. Poor girl. She's trying so hard to represent, carrying the weight of a nation on her shoulders, bless her.

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  38. > Jill said...
    Howard, you're a gentleman as always. Happy Thanksgiving to you!


    And a very happy Virginian Thanksgiving to you too, Jill! If you feel you are not welcome here, I hope you remember that there is a place where you are *always* welcome, and where your pleasant manners and astute but fairly-posed observations are sincerely appreciated. (And in case anyone thinks that I am employing some heavy-handed Brit irony here, no *I'm not*!)

    > Note that my comments are called "reprimands" but Expat's are "humour" (^_^)

    Yes, funny that, isn't it?! And as for me, though she is one, I am not allowed to address Expat as "fellow Brit"!


    And I still think green bean casserole looks fine, and that all people and all nations should be allowed to eat what they like without adverse and chauvinistic comment about it.

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  39. "Chauvinistic" Howard?? Oh this just gets better and better. Do explain.

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  40. Oh dear! Am having a chuckle over all this malarky and can't help wondering what would have happened had it been sweet potato casserole complete with marshmallows that you commented on.

    P.S. My 10-year-old is begging me to make it with our turkey dinner this year!

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  41. Yeah, this blog would be so much more interesting if Expat Mum was allowed to say only nice and complimentary things about the States. (That's sarcasm, Jill.)

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  42. Kids! Kids! I turn my back for five minutes and look what happens. I work and slave all day for you and this is the thanks I get! Don't make me stop this ... um, Internet!

    Mike - Having Thanksgiving in a hotel in Totnes.

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  43. I do so enjoy the insight that comes follwing a good dispute. It works on so many levels. But it is best summed up by a saying I learned in Yorkshire. "There's nowt so queer as folk!"

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  44. > Oh this just gets better and better.

    So glad you think so!

    > Do explain.

    Certainly: here is a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauvinism

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  45. > Howard - we are talking about green beans here. Green beans.

    ... then, in the same comment:

    > NFAH - yes, I go back and forth with mushy peas. Mind you, the texture is about the same as mashed sweet potato which I love.

    Anyone else puzzled by a slight inconsistency between the above remarks?

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  46. Oh my!!!! Can I wade in too? For the first time in my life I wish I have tried green bean casserole so I could make an educated comment here--one way or the other. It was not a tradition in our family.

    I am serving green beans at our T-giving meal, but stir-fried in oil and butter and with toasted pine nuts thrown in. Not really going to stir up any one's opinions either way though, is it?! Now I feel dull. ;)

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  47. Well, this is my first visit to this blog and what a visit! I am a Canadian living in the US and Thanksgiving, for me, has come and gone. We have only been invited once for US Thanksgiving dinner and it was quite a time. I think for Americans it is by far the most important holiday. So I'm a little surprised by this discussion, but not wholly surprised.

    At home it's a nice family gathering, with turkey, pumpkin pie, potatoes, salad and various root vegetables. Inevitably there is vegetable or two that is liked only by one person (or occasionally by none) but there's other things to eat.

    I have had the dreaded "green bean casserole" once and hated it; my then 8 year old son loved it.

    I'm not sure why Jill is offended but I have noticed Americans often don't take well to British dry humour.

    As for adapting to America, part of the deal of moving to a new country is to adapt the best pieces but not to lose your national identity. I never wanted new Canadians to give up their say, Turkish or Indian roots, but to teach us more about their heritage.

    Love the blog, and Happy Thanksgiving to eaters and non-eaters of green bean casserole alike!

    Christine

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  48. Howard - "exaggerated, bellicose patriotism and a blind belief in national superiority and glory"? "Extreme and unreasoning partisanship"? "Malice and hatred"? In the blog or indeed any of the comments? Really?

    *rolls eyes and wishes he had as much time on his hands as some people*

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  49. Actually the green beans might well accuse me of unreasoning partisanship. I prefer Brussels sprouts and will shout it from the rooftops. But I can't really engage with anyone who quotes Wiki at me to defend explain him/herself.

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  50. and now Ladies and Gentlemen, this is ACTUALLY what an American Thanksgiving is like! Warts and all, fist fights, drunken uncles, and pissy ex wives.

    Thank you for the entertainment, I dont think I need to watch the woody allen movie I got out for tonight!

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  51. 50 responses! Goodness!

    At least I have one compatriot--a lady couldn't ask for a nicer one!--even if I seem to be persona non grata with everyone else.

    On the Food Channel last night, one of the chefs, a Brit (can't remember his name, the one from Dinner Impossible), made an observation that was insightful and helpful: if you're from somewhere else but living in America embrace the customs of Thanksgiving and all the trimmings. As he said, it's a nice custom with the intent of being together and being thankful for what we have.

    He never once said any part of the occasion was "bloody awful"--in that hilariously dry humour, sarcastic Brit way. Know why? Because it wouldn't be appropriate, that's why. Because he had some sensitivity for the feelings of the people he now lives amongst, that's why.

    Expat would do well to follow his example when she makes her hilariously sarcastic dry humour Brit comments about American customs. They're so funny! (that's sarcasm, Mwa)

    Final observation: I've been to England many times, have a load of English friends, love the country and it's people, have English heritage on all sides of my family, have been on lots of UK/US forums, but I've never felt so assaulted and offended by a Brit's observations about America as I have been by Expat's every article, whether it's that we don't say "please" enough or we say "thank you" too much or whatever, we Americans just can't seem to please her.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Best Wishes to all.

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  52. Jill, I think you are taking this far too seriously, making a vegetable casserole into something far beyond what it should be.

    The only really important thing about Thanksgiving is being with family, friends, and giving thanks, as your English chef said.

    I don't think Expat can't be "pleased" by anything American. I often get comments about Canada 1) being the 51st state 2) part of the US, really, anyway 3) the igloo homes. It all comes down to the person; I try to take it calmly and view it as a chance to correct misconceptions.

    I really think this isn't the blog for you Jill. It's obviously none of my business but you're feeling upset so why not quit reading?

    And although the USA is a great place to live, not everyone feels that way. I know many Canadian expats who will go home when they can; the cultural differences are fairly profound.

    Christine

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  53. As an American who grew up with the green bean casserole year after year, I am glad to say that I now reside in Canada. Those are the extremes that I had to go to in order to escape the revolting (in my opinion) dish.

    If saying that out loud means that my US citizenship is in question, well, I'm more than happy to become Canadian!

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  54. Sherilyn - isn't that treason?

    Jill - It's sort of flattering that my throwaway comment about (gasp) a green bean casserole could carry so much weight with you. You really should just ignore me. I would if my culinary comments (and every other comment for that matter) upset me so much. In fact, I'd probably never visit this blog again. Hint, hint.

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  55. It's not just that comment, Expat, it's the accumulation of all of your oh so funny observations.

    When I replied in kind, the wrath of Madam Queen descended.

    I am banished and will comply with the royal and very funny will.

    I leave hoping you find some measure of happiness here in the US, as you so obviously have not found it yet.

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  56. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
    (A competition! - Identify - all you English students.)

    To my errant subject (anonymous Jill) -

    In sooth, you try me sorely. You did not "reply in kind". It did not compare. You flatter yourself.

    Nota bene - you are not "banished" for that would give you too much "smug" pleasure and would bring to a sudden and importunate end, the ribald laughter that we have enjoyed since your entrance to this moot. Long may it continue. (Raises glass of mead. Preferably Lindisfarne variety.) Besides, your banishment would have prompted the old cliche "To The Tower".

    The very fact that I am royally urinating with mirth while you, it would appear are still venting your spleen, leads me to believe that this is much ado about nothing and you should emply your want-wit sadness elsewhere.

    (Extra prizes to anyone who can name the quotes.)

    BTW - My name (Antonia) was once listed as meaning "Queenly" but I'm damned if I can find it. However, if you look it up in that, oh so reliable Wiki source, (Howard's bible)It still means "Priceless" and "beyond praise".

    And with that, Obama is paying a visit to Chicago and - well, needs must!

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  57. > At least I have one compatriot

    Dear Jill, I am not sure if the honour falls to me to be so described (I'm actually British), but certainly I am your ally. It seems to me that you have every right to question prejudices in this blog, and you do it with calm and politeness.

    The interesting part of this thread of comments is not in fact to do with bean casserole, but with whether it is possible to question the original article without disparaging remarks like, "I respectfully suggest that if it causes you so much irritation, you spend your time reading blogs that are more palatable to your sensibilities." Such comments rarely seem to me to be mature.

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  58. > The very fact that I am royally urinating with mirth while you, it would appear are still venting your spleen, leads me to believe that this is much ado about nothing and you should emply your want-wit sadness elsewhere.

    This is very sad stuff indeed, is it not, Expat? Far below your ususual quality. I really do not know why you should wish to shed friends like this.

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  59. Oh my word! What a brilliant read!

    Jill, I have always been led to believe that America is a free country, with freedom of speech being one of the most closely held rights! Well, you are letting the side down. All Expat said was that she doesn't like some food... why is that so disparaging and why shouldn't she be allowed an opinion?

    I have actually read and re-read the post and the comments trying to see what could possibly be so bad that it deserved an attack on the writer. I can't. I think that Jill needs to get a little perspective.

    And Howard, I think it was quite clear that Expat wanted to know how you could possibly link chauvanism to her comments, not what its definition is.

    This would have been an even better bun fight if the antagonists had better skill in aguing.

    Great post.

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  60. You know, as an American, I gotta say that plenty of Americans *don't eat green bean cassarole*. Because it's disgusting.

    Plenty of us also make our own cranberry sauce instead of putting it on the plate looking like the inside of the can, and we don't put candy on perfectly healthy root vegetables either.

    Of course, reading all this... am I the only one who gets the feeling that Howard is Jill's sockpuppet? That or they're tag-team trolling.

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  61. > Well, you are letting the side down. All Expat said was that she doesn't like some food... why is that so disparaging and why shouldn't she be allowed an opinion?

    And why shouldn't Jill also be allowed her opinion?

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  62. Oh.....I see I have missed a blog fight!
    I can't believe what I'm reading!

    I have always thought that this is a great blog with some really good topics (even if I don't always comment.) Surely it is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek.
    No need to get het up readers.
    Carry on writing what you want Mike & Toni. Its your blog after all!

    Nuts in May

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  63. > Of course, reading all this... am I the only one who gets the feeling that Howard is Jill's sockpuppet? That or they're tag-team trolling.

    Always a possibility, but not so in this case. Get Mike, who has stayed out of this ruction, to look at the logs.

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  64. > Plenty of us also make our own cranberry sauce instead of putting it on the plate looking like the inside of the can, and we don't put candy on perfectly healthy root vegetables either.

    What in heavens' name did that mean?

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  65. > Jill, I have always been led to believe that America is a free country, with freedom of speech being one of the most closely held rights! Well, you are letting the side down. All Expat said was that she doesn't like some food... why is that so disparaging and why shouldn't she be allowed an opinion?

    So, please run this past me again. Expat is allowed an opinion, but Jill isn't? What principle of democracy does this obey?

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  66. Do you just read whatever you want into what someone has written? Where did I mention that Jill is not allowed an opinion? I only said that she was getting all hot under the collar for Toni for having one, this is Toni's blog so she is entitled to write what she wants, and if you don't like it there is no need to be nasty about it, just stop reading it.

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  67. It means exactly what it sounds like. People who put marshmallows on sweet potatoes can do it at their house, not mine.

    http://sheldoncomics.com/archive/091126.html

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  68. Yes, I do think that Jill is busted as a troll. Not at all sure of Howard's modus operandi but each to his/her own.

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  69. Hmmmm Interesting. I have been in lurk mode on this site for a while now as I am too busy most days lately to mess with the internet, other than some light reading before bed. However on this special American day I am moved to add my own twopennyworth.....

    Green bean casserole - Green beans in my opinion are sort of Ok, adds some colour to a meal I suppose, but nothing to get knocked out about - Mushroom soup, Lovely... as soup, but not as a sauce for a vegetable surely? Crispy onion, well I sort of like it, I wouldn't raise hell if I never saw it again, but am OK with it - served all together? No for me really, though I have eaten it and not been revolted by it (that takes sprouts for serious revulsion).

    Thanksgiving - well of course we don't have it here in the UK - except as a sort of celebration that we finally got rid of those pesky puritanical pilgrim fathers, and we could get on with some serious debauchery :-)

    Well for Thanksgiving dinner tonight, after work, remember we are in the Uk, My American wife had a bowl of tinned tomato soup and I had beans on toast (No, not THOSE beans, the Heinz baked variety). Then a chat with the US based family and settle in for some TV.

    I have to admit I would like to experience a thanksgiving dinner with the family in the US and am mostly up for trying almost any food, but like someone said earlier, Marshmallow and sugar with Sweet Potato? What's that about then?

    Oh, and for the record Mushy peas are fine with fish & chips but come into their own with a fresh made pork pie and served with mint sauce. My American wife has tried most of the "British" items mentioed here at one time or another and rates them as follows...

    Black Pudding - hates it
    Haggis - Loves it but only certain kinds
    Marmite - an abomination to her
    Toad in the Hole - Likes it
    Faggots - doesn't like them, but I suspect that is only because of the name (It took me ages to get her to try clotted cream which she now admits to loving)
    Spotted Dick - OK with it, but not really into British puddings, especially with custard.

    There, that lot should start the ball rolling again?

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  70. I can't believe that this one comment has caused such a stir. Can a person not have an opinion anymore? Jill, do you like every American food there is? I somehow doubt it. The list of foods I don't like is probably longer than the ones I do like. As an American, I certainly can't say that because a non-American doesn't like something that I like (or don't like for that matter) that there is something *wrong* with them! That they aren't fitting in well enough. What a crock.

    I happen to love green bean casserole, and I'm making it for my English family on Saturday. They may not like it, but really this meal is more for me than them anyway. I imagine that they will like *something* I cook, and I'm okay with that.

    So, I'm an American living in England. Would you like me to list the things I don't like? Salad cream, Indian food (too spicy!), the bread sucks (goes stale in days), the inexpensive ice cream isn't even worth buying... I could go on. I'm sure not every English person will agree with me. But they don't have to. I'm not trying to become British. There are plenty of things I do enjoy eating, so I eat those.

    Why is this even an issue?

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  71. You know, actually, I don't like green bean salad all that much, either ;)

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  72. >>Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
    (A competition! - Identify - all you English students.)

    To my errant subject (anonymous Jill) -

    In sooth, you try me sorely. You did not "reply in kind". It did not compare. You flatter yourself.

    Nota bene - you are not "banished" for that would give you too much "smug" pleasure and would bring to a sudden and importunate end, the ribald laughter that we have enjoyed since your entrance to this moot. Long may it continue. (Raises glass of mead. Preferably Lindisfarne variety.) Besides, your banishment would have prompted the old cliche "To The Tower".

    The very fact that I am royally urinating with mirth while you, it would appear are still venting your spleen, leads me to believe that this is much ado about nothing and you should emply your want-wit sadness elsewhere.<<

    OMG that's so funny I'm holding my sides to keep them from splitting!

    At least I'm not soiling my clothes but then royalty does have it's privileges, doesn't it?

    If commanding that I should "emply my want-wit sadness elsewhere" doesn't amount to banishment then I won't argue with Madam Queen, even though I suspect the word wanted was "employ". Wouldn't want to critise.

    I certainly won't give myself the smug self-importance to think I was banished, one wouldn't want that in one's subjects, would one? Mine is but to obey.

    So even though I was one of the early posters on the first blog entry here and have made many entries since then, Madam Queen has labeled me a troll. Oh the royal wit!

    It'll be hard to pull myself away from such friendly, tolerant and oh almost forgot--funny
    blog entries though.

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  73. Don't let the door hit ya on the way out babe. Bye - eee.
    Yeah - party time everyone!!!!!

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  74. Lordy - over green bean casserole. I think it's an acquired taste and I have plenty left over if anyone wants any. I mail internationally!!

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  75. Mike H...how was Totnes? Spent every summer of my childhood there at my Devonian aunt's. Early morning walks down to the Dart with Bonzo the dog, great memories. Loved the place.

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  76. Vinogirl: Totnes is a joy. I really like going out there, despite the fact that I have to work all day. The hotel is lovely, the people are nice, the scenery is spectacular. Must have been great spending the summers there when you didn't have to be on the client's site from 8 AM to 6 PM ;)

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  77. Thanks. I know the Seven Stars is still a hotel, but is the Hanover hotel still there, by the bridge?

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  78. I just returned from the U.K to the U.S. I've never liked U.S breakfast sausage. Imagine my suprise when I discovered I really like U.K breakfast sausage. Is there somewhere to mailorder decent U.K breakfast sausage?

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  79. There are a few places if you Google them (UK foods) and aparently there's a place about 30 miles south of me. My kids die for English sausages when we're over and it kills me that I can't make Toad in the Hole for them. (Well, obviously it doesn't kill me, but I wish I could do it more than a few times in the summer.)

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  80. What a good blog. And in the end, my English guests loved the green bean casserole I made them prepare...

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  81. what a riot this post and its comments has been...though l'm ashamed at my post.....was gonna edit it, but then it would lose its je ne sais quoi!

    Roasted brussels, please do send me recipe ASAP...do they smell less this way, l'm th eonly one in the family who like, brussels, xmas cake, xmas pud, mince pies, but I have ot make them, the kids make me cos its part of the routine, and they wonder why I get fat, cos l cant bear the waste,,duh!!

    I love brussels, so mush l only have them at xmas, cos I eat them raw you see, last year the traffic was so bad on my way home, l ate all but 5 from the bag??? love hem, so roasted with what on top...do tell!! They make wonderful soup.....pity they make one so ....erm windy!!!

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