My Farewell Tour

Years ago, sitting in class, didn't you wonder why you had to learn where Mesopotamia was? Why learn about the places so far away? What was the point of knowing about some huge desert in a place it was unlikely I would ever visit. Well, now I know why. One never knows in life what sort of interesting things will come about. And my life has certainly been interesting. But, now it's time to learn about another part of the world and depart from my safe haven of New Hampshire and head out to parts unknown in a place called Abu Dhabi.
I am calling this part of my journey, before I leave, my "Farewell Tour" because haven't you ever noticed that when a cool rock band is going to change members or break up, they have a Farewell Tour that lasts about a year? Well, I began my "Farewell Tour" at the Thanksgiving dinner table last November as I sat and looked around at my family, my cousins, aunts and uncles and I asked my mother what she would think if I decided to teach overseas. My mother responded favorably and I thought, well, then, this is it. This could be my last Thanksgiving dinner with the family in New England, for a couple of years. I mentally looked around at the family as if to impress their faces and that moment on my mind. At that point, my mother was the only one who knew that I was planning such a crazy, wild journey of my heart. I applaud her for being open to such an idea. Now that I am further along in my journey, she is still so very supportive. What more can one ask from her parents?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When Dinner Ends: "Elvis Has Left the Building"

 Stay Tuned; More Photos to follow

Like many Americans, I am getting ready for Thanksgiving, this week. We will adjust our calendar to accommodate our schedule. Over here, it's been a bit of a challenge to put a Thanksgiving dinner together. Since we work on Thursday, I will have our event on Saturday. The guest list is a little out of hand, now, I think I am up to 40 confirmed people. My upstairs neighbor and colleague, Sebastian, has offered me the use of the rooftop deck for additional space. (I'm pretty sure I will need it!)
The turkeys did appear in the stores after Halloween, so I brought home two large size 13lbs (well, large for Abu Dhabi) each...yesterday, I returned to the store for another, all the big ones were gone, so this one is about 10 lbs.
Hunting for the makings for stuffing has been the biggest challenge...cannot find sage, anywhere...I was in the market yesterday, in the spice aisle with another American also looking for spices. She had her I-pad with her and googled "Sage" and all we could determine is that if I find something with the scientific name "salvia" that would work. At the same time, another American walked up and she had found some "sage-y feeling" herbs in the veggie dept that she thought tasted like sage. So, I trucked back over there and found same...but I am not sure it is sage. has a very sharp, peppery taste. but I chopped it up into the dressing...and with the marjoram and thyme, it is passable as to what I think stuffing should taste like. The bread itself had to be created from stacks of French loaves, browned in the oven.
Other adventures in culinary tasks...I have the makings for Whipped cream and had to find a whisk to whip it. I didn't want to spend the $$ right now for a real mixer.
The American gal from the spice aisle asked me if I knew where she could find real vanilla extract...ah, well, yes, in another country...a Western country, as Muslim countries do not allow vanilla extract to be sold, as it is alcohol based. I did suggest to her that she could get vanilla beans at the herbalist and put them in a small bottle of grain alcohol or vodka and be able to have real vanilla.  (She really should Google that!)
The defrost process is taking forever. Bird #1 (Elvis) had 4 days in the fridge and really could have gone another day. Bird #2 (Arlo) has been in the fridge 2 days and shows no signs of softening. Bird #3 (Khalas...Arabic for "finish" or "end") had better straighten up and defrost or you know I'll have to just execute him...again.
Oh, the biggest joy is cooking over here. There is no such thing as a real old fashioned stove oven...I did find a beautiful "cooker" which is a stove/oven combo, with convection, so after burning the brownies on my first try out...I have learned to adjust both time and temp. Elvis turned out so beautifully moist with the crispest of crusts that when I go home I am ditching my traditional oven and getting one of these convection combos.
My cranberry bread also turned out better than ever.
I cued up my Youtube this morning to find a copy of Arlo Guthrie singing "Alice's Restaurant" so we can continue the tradition. I would miss that if I couldn't hear it.
Well, that's a little insight into "Giving Thanksgiving for Being in Abu Dhabi" and I believe I have just written my next blog!