As I write this, it’s after 2am on Thanksgiving morning and I am sitting in the kitchen on the rooftop of our hostel in Chefchaouen, Morocco, being warmed by the oven next to me, taking in the smell of apple pie baking, and basking in simple happiness.
I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to do an international Thanksgiving celebration here in Chefchaouen.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I wanted to celebrate it and share some of my culture with others. I also knew I would be sad to be away from my family during the holidays and figured the best balm for that would be to create a feeling of home away from home.
I started talking about my plans to everyone who would listen, and as the day got closer, people got interested in joining the celebration. A small group of chefs formed to take on the challenge of making this meal, despite a small kitchen space and limited ingredients.
(The kitchen we’re working with)
We spent the afternoon today combing the market for ingredients we needed, kind of like a scavenger hunt. We even managed to find a piece of a giant pumpkin so we could make a homemade pumpkin pie. We won’t have a turkey but we’ll do most of the other classic Thanksgiving dishes (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, stuffing, etc.), other than cranberry sauce, because we haven’t been able to find any cranberries here.
We are attempting to cook a meal for about 30 people – the large “family” of people at this hostel at this particular moment. The travelers who are here are all invited, and we have also invited the Moroccan family who own the hostel and a few Moroccan friends.
That’s what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about, after all.
People, even those who are different from one another, getting together and sharing with each other.
We started cooking this evening in an attempt to get ahead of the day tomorrow, since the limited kitchen space makes it tough to do more than one thing at a time, and despite the pies taking much longer than anticipated, things are generally going smoothly.
The holiday spirit is in the air, the hostel feels like a community, and people are excited about celebrating tomorrow, even though most of the people who will be joining us are not Americans.
Personally, I am looking forward to a busy day of pulling together the rest of the meal, and then an evening of community, eating and enjoying. I will miss my family back in the states, but this Thanksgiving promises to be a memorable one.
(Just came out of the oven – not bad for Morocco!)
I wish you all a day filled with joy, love, and good food. I’ll post some pictures of our Moroccan experience in a few days! Bon appetit!