Thanksgiving is approaching. As a child, this was not my most favorite holiday because I was a pain-in-the-ass-picky-eater and decided I didn’t like any of the traditional Thanksgiving food. As an adult, I love this holiday. It’s one of my favorite days to spend with Sean, whether alone or with company, to relax and enjoy spending time together.
Thanksgiving overseas comes with so many unique challenges. Our last overseas Thanksgiving was two years ago and we almost didn’t get our turkeys delivered in time. You know, the turkey we had ordered back in June that was “guaranteed” to arrive in time and almost didn’t? Yeah. That was not such a great week.
This year, acquiring ingredients for Thanksgiving has been easier. Tbilisi has a much better selection on the local market, and we have a glorious commissary stocked with American goodies like Oreos, cheddar cheese, tortillas, ice cream, black beans, and pumpkin pie filling. Not that I purchased all of those items for Thursday, but they are some of the highlights.
However, that doesn’t stop me from keeping with my old ways when it comes to overseas food habits. And with the holiday approaching, these habits have come into very clear focus. Here are a few of my favorites.
In Dushanbe especially, the selection of products on the local economy was very unstable. Something would be available one day and gone the next. It was common practice to buy as much as you could of your favorite products when you saw them. I once drove halfway across town during my lunch break to buy fresh asparagus. It was pretty intense.
Here, it’s a little less critical, but it doesn’t stop me from stocking up. Someone told me in passing that sweet potatoes are not always readily available. I took that to heart, and every time I went to the grocery store I bought as many as I could carry. The result is more than a little ridiculous.
Yes, this is really how they are stored. I had them in a box for a while but they started sprouting. And yes, I’ve since stopped buying 7-10 each time I go shopping.
Making Things From Scratch
My latest conquest is peeling and dicing two butternut squash without 1) seriously damaging myself or others, and 2) getting frustrated and throwing it against a wall. The last time I tried to cut up my own butternut squash was probably 2013 and the end result was me splashing hot soup all over myself and the counter while screaming “THAT’S IT! WE ARE GOING OUT FOR PIZZA!”
Since that fateful day I’ve only ever bought pre-cut and frozen butternut squash. Until yesterday. My longing for butternut squash soup outweighed my disdain for dealing with the raw vegetable, so I put on my big girl pants and peeled and diced the damn things.
When finished, I triumphantly sent Sean the following text:
I also regularly make my own almond milk, riced cauliflower, and don’t even get me started on my canning adventures. None of this is necessary at home.
Mail Ordering Ingredients
One weird thing I don’t often see in Tbilisi is lemon or lime juice. I don’t know why, and I may just be looking in all the wrong places. We didn’t pack a lot in our consumables, I don’t feel like constantly squeezing fresh lemons or limes because that’s a pain, so I resorted to ordering some off Amazon. Thankfully, we have the DPO and liquids aren’t as restricted to make that possible. I’ve also ordered maple syrup, gravy mix (because I just CAN’T GET IT RIGHT FROM SCRATCH OK?!), almond milk coffee creamer, pepperoni, pine nuts, and brownie mix. Even I know this is odd behavior.
There are probably more weird food tendencies I’ve developed when it comes to cooking and managing my pantry overseas, but these are probably the funniest.
Don’t ever take American grocery stores for granted guys, they really are magical.