Americans living in Italy, no matter our differences, seem to have one thing in common: we all miss Thanksgiving. Our Italian friends are also quite fascinated by our holiday and all of the incredible (and unusual to them) foods and recipes we prepare. Since the fourth Thursday of November (for some very odd reason, wink wink) isn’t a holiday in Italy, I’d say most of us who actually do celebrate Thanksgiving, do so on the weekend.
But, when your friends at ViaMedina (Mark, a British chef, and his whirlwind American wife, Ginger) decide to plan a real Thanksgiving dinner, and actually ON Thanksgiving evening, how can you pass up the opportunity? The event was held at the beautiful 12th San Giusto Abbey, in Tuscania, about 90 km. northwest of Rome, a lovely location that everyone enjoyed. November has been very kind to us and the evening was beautiful: warm temperatures and no rain!
Our dinner was served family style, and I have to admit that they created such a family-like atmosphere that I almost (almost, I said) wanted to get up and help clear the tables!! Mark and Ginger’s creativity is second to none. Some of our ‘treats’? Well, I won’t forget the best pigs in a blanket ever eaten (hey guys, the name didn’t do them justice), homemade potato chips with wild fennel pollen and onion rings served with a wonderful rose’ wine from a nearby winery. This was just to warm things up before sitting down.
I won’t bore anyone with specifics, but I can just say that the international group of locals from Tuscania and other curious Italians, Americans and Canadians thoroughly enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving with a twist…..including sweet potatoes (SO hard for us to find here) with chipotle, the BEST mashed potatoes, turkey, sunchokes (topinambur in Italian), gingerbread cookies, mini pumpkin pies, homemade marshmallows and even spiked cider to top it all off!!! All of this (and much more) was served with a selection of fine wines by Sergio Mottura. Not only was our dinner paired with fine wines, but also with very good music, provided by Valeria and Marco, an Italian duo that sings in English and are known as Hot Nuts.
In their words, ‘Our second ViaMedina Thanksgiving feast is a celebration of the classic dishes that American families have served on their tables for generations, to give thanks for the good times and the difficult moments that bring them together. Tonight we celebrate together, new frinds and old, by passing these plates to each other as a sign of love, of friendship, and of joy. A small gesture, a meal together, your hand in mine.’
Thank you, Mark and Ginger; you created a genuine community success.