Do you know that United flies direct to Beijing from Washington DC? In about 13 hours, you can hop from one capital city to another. So, we did just that...and went to Beijing for about eight days over Thanksgiving. It made me thankful...to be American. I really like China, but on cold, dry, bleak, winter days in this eastern capital city where there is nothing green or fresh in sight, when your shoes are gray from dust and spittle (yes, haucking a big one in public is commonplace), your lungs are full of pollution, and you've had your fair share of noodles and rice, you find yourself yearning for the comforts of home...like turkey and gravy with all the trimmings. So when we got the last minute invitation for Thanksgiving dinner, it was welcome news.
Some expat friends from Washington state hosted a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner at their home in a towering and swank high rise in the center of the city. John and Kerri, along with their "ai-ee" (I'm spelling the Mandarin word for "auntie"--a euphamism for domestic helper--phonetically) made a meal that was all the more fabulous as many of the ingredients, like the turkey itself, sage, etc. are typically really difficult to come by. Though most things are pretty accessible, some specialty items have to be ordered or scavanged ahead of time when they are in stock, as the reliability and availability of many things are not guaranteed. For a dinner like this, Kerri had to make several trips to different stores. She only buys meat from the German butcher, as other sources are questionable in terms of their cleanliness. And when she saw the turkey available about a month ago, she jumped on it and bought the frozen bird, knowing that she might not get another chance at it. For vegetables, they have a woman who sells organic that comes to their building. And lately, a new crop of organic markets have popped up all over town. Anyway, it was a feat to get all of this together. So, if you're reading this, thank you John and Kerri very much for hosting a magnificent and unforgettable Thanksgiving! We ate and drank *very well*, met new friends, celebrated with old ones, and learned a great deal about what life is like for expats in China today, with its economic and cultural boom.
Bragiole (cured beef)-wrapped persimmon with arugula...a great take on the prosciutto and melon idea. Love the local interpretation using the persimmon!
The roux for the gravy, made with flour, butter, and drippings. Kerri then added home-made stock that she had simmered for hours the day before with the turkey bones...so meticulous!
An international summit on Turkey of sorts: John is American, Chris is British, and they're both trying to carve this bird in China!