Thanksgiving 2017 is a day that I will fondly remember.
Four cooks, two full days of work in the kitchen, about ten trips to the market and the corner store, and one beautiful evening of a meal eaten on the rooftop terrace by candlelight with thirty lovely people whose lives converged at one hostel on this one night.
Mashed potatoes in a traditional Moroccan serving dish
It was a lot of work (I know – all of you who have cooked Thanksgiving dinners before are saying, of course it is!) but also a lot of fun. Though I was exhausted by the end, I enjoyed the process of planning, cooking, and being the impetus to gather 30 people who didn’t know each other to celebrate like a family.
We ate together on the rooftop, looking out at the beautiful Rif mountains, the meal lit by candles and a few dim lamps. It was lovely. We had enough food for all 30 people, but just barely. There were definitely no leftovers this year!
Co-chefs looking a bit frazzled on Thanksgiving afternoon
My co-chef was an American named Aaron. I didn’t know him before, but he arrived at the hostel several days before Thanksgiving and thankfully decided he wanted to help. He and I did the bulk of the cooking, with Daniel taking the lead on gathering money from people who wanted to join in so that we didn’t end up funding the entire venture and an Australian friend helping with errands and spreading the word. Aaron took on the hardest parts of the meal – making the pie crust (his grandmother’s recipe) and gravy – among other things, and was a constant, steady presence with a great sense of humor.
Aaron and me outside the hostel on his last day in Chefchaouen (Photo by the amazing Rachel McCoy – check out her Instagram @rachel.mccoy)
After the dinner, a small group of us gathered to share what we were thankful for this year. There were some themes that you might expect – the ability to travel, to be here in Morocco, language abilities to communicate with others, one person said RyanAir (a very cheap European airline that enables a lot of people to travel for little money), the community we had built at the hostel, etc. For me, at the top of my list was my co-chef, Aaron, for sticking with the process throughout the entire two days and really making it possible to pull off this enormous undertaking.
Daniel ended up doing dishes until 5am that night, so he also gets a Thanksgiving MVP award:) Personally, I was in bed by 11 that night, full and happy.
Definitely a beautiful day, despite being so far from family and home, but I don’t think I will be spearheading any more big meals for a while:)