Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Brussels

I celebrated Thanksgiving in Brussels this year! My friend, Regina, who lives in Milan, Italy was in town for work. She organized a group of Americans and non-Americans to join the American Club of Brussels for a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. It was held at a hotel in downtown Brussels and about 150 people were there including the US Ambassador to Belgium. It was such a treat to be with a lot of Americans on this day when I was away from my family.

It was really fun to share this American holiday with non-Americans who were so interested in the traditions of this day. We had people from Germany; France; England; Belgium; and Dubai, UAE as well as a couple of Americans. Here was our table: This is my friend, Regina, who is originally from Memphis, but has lived in Italy for over 20 years! Even though this was a 'traditional' Thanksgiving dinner, the traditions were still different from what I have in my own family, as well as what Regina had growing up! For instance, the first course for this dinner was New England Clam Chowder. Now, in the south, we skip the starter or appetizer and head straight for the main course!! However, another American lady at our table always started with some type of soup.
Each table was given their own turkey to carve. Here is JR from Dubai taking a stab at our bird! I shared with this group how my dad cooks our turkey for the holidays....by frying it! (By the way, if you have never had a fried turkey, you are so missing out!)
The table was set so nicely. Again, in my family, we are not so formal!
The side dishes were served family style, which I thought was a neat touch. We had sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn pudding, beets (seriously, who has beets at Thanksgiving?!), stuffing, and get this.....cranberry JELL-O. Yes, I said JELL-O! See, you cannot get cranberries in Belgium to make traditional cranberry sauce, nor the canned stuff either...so they did the next best thing and made Jell-O!

This is where the conversation got interesting. Regina and I are from the south and we have cornbread dressing instead of stuffing for our holidays. We had another American who only had stuffing growing up and had never heard of cornbread dressing. When my family was in Brussels over the summer, I was craving mom's cornbread dressing....so she made me some! For those who have never heard of it...here is a picture! YUM!
This is a little sample of our dinner.
My plate....YUM! I did try the stuffing, and quite honestly, it was the nasty! I mean, really GROSS! Do you see the Jell-O?!
Then on to dessert. These pies were not traditional, in my opinion and they were just ok!
This is a piece of pumpkin and apple.
I am used to this....Mom's chocolate pie!
It was so fun to share this tradition with non-Americans who have always heard of Thanksgiving, but had not actually shared in one with Americans! We all left stuffed and ready for a nap....sounds pretty traditional to me, uh?!

What are your holiday traditions?


  1. What a delightful way to spend Thanksgiving when you're so far from home. Nothing makes us hunger for home like traditions and foods! Thanks for sharing.

    Btw, I long for the day one of my kids ASKS me to make anything to eat cuz its their favorite :)

  2. Wow... that is so much fun. I'm always amazed at how much other countries are interested in our holidays because I don't remember ever hearing much about stuff from other countries here. Starting to wish I was more well rounded :)

    By the way... I'm a total stuffing girl!

  3. Anonymous3:26 AM

    That really looks like fun Tippa! I'm sitting here in bed now starving looking at your mom's dressing and chocolate pie!!!
    I swear to you I'm making a pie ASAP!

  4. Both of my parents grew up in upstate new york so all they had was stuffing. Well my parents moved to the south before I was born so I grew up eating both stuffing and cornbread dressing. Cornbread dressing is so much better than stuffing!