Thanksgiving Day was like any other day here in Italy. No national holiday kept people from going to work or students going to school, there was no parade filled with oversized balloons, and no giant meal was had. Instead, we had tickets to a concert that night so heated up some leftover chili from the night before.
The next day was Black Friday and while there were several stores advertising sales all weekend, there weren’t outrageous lines outside electronics stores, shops didn’t open at 3am, and there certainly weren’t any stories about people being trampled over the latest “it” product on the news that night.
But don’t worry, we were good Americans in the end and celebrated Thanksgiving (turkey and all) – we were just a couple days late. Saturday was our designated celebration day. A giant Thanksgiving potluck was planned through Evan’s school and in order to gain entry, we had to either bring a dish or pay 10 euros. So, of course, we brought a couple dishes!
We decided on making stuffing and the traditional sweet potato casserole. Our task was made much easier than it would have been if my mom hadn’t sent a box full of American goodies a couple weeks prior, complete with Pepperidge Farm stuffing and marshmallows to top the casserole (best mom ever). All that we needed to pick up was celery, onion, milk, and sweet potatoes – and it’s with the sweet potatoes that we ran into some trouble.
Apparently, sweet potatoes aren’t grown in Italy and after visting our local grocery store, two markets, and a produce stand, I was starting to worry that we’d have to choose a different dish. Finally, we poked our heads in to a tiny convenience store located on a side street in between our apartment and Evan’s campus and tucked on the top shelf in a corner – sweet potatoes!
The shop owner told us he gets them shipped in from Israel since Americans and Israelis are always asking for them. In the end, he saved the day and we were able to make our dishes without further issues.
Evan’s school put on a great Thanksgiving dinner complete with twelve turkeys, many pumpkin pies made in springform pans (all student housing seems to be equipped with cheesecake making materials but not pie making materials), and background music that began as country tunes and quickly turned into Christmas classics.
It seems that on this Thanksgiving I should also be thankful for the Americans (and Israelis, apparently) before me that pestered shopowners for sweet potatoes.