The Dutch Connection to Thanksgiving

Old Greensboro

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate, and happy Thursday to those who don’t. Regardless of your nationality, it’s always nice to take a moment to think about the good things in your life and be thankful for them, be they big or small. It’s a nice reminder when things aren’t always going so well.

Although Thanksgiving is seen primarily as a North American holiday (our Canadian neighbors to the north celebrate a few weeks before we do in the US), there still is a Dutch connection to the holiday. In fact, the Pilgrims spent approximately 12 years in the Netherlands, around Leiden, before actually heading to the new world. There’s even a Pilgrim museum in Leiden, which gives a bit of history on their time there, and includes information about the origins of the Thanksgiving celebration, which may have begun during their time in the Netherlands. As mentioned in Wikipedia, “According to historian Jeremy Bangs, director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, the Pilgrims may have been influenced by watching the annual services of Thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in 1574, while they were staying in Leiden.”

I’d be interested in visiting the museum someday. As the website says, the museum aims to present the reality behind the Pilgrim myth. Part of the myth seems to be that they went straight from England to the Americas. I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn anything about a stopover in the Netherlands when I was in school and learning about the pilgrims.

I guess I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to learn, both about my home country and my adopted homeland. The fact that the two countries have been so intertwined for centuries makes things even more interesting.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Dressing in the Works
A quick post to wish all my American friends and family a happy thanksgiving! I’ve got the turkey breast in the oven right now. The cornbread dressing (seen above) is ready to go in when the turkey comes out, the pecan pie is done, and the mashed potatoes and green beans are up next! I’ve even found an online stream of the Macy’s Parade to help bring the whole atmosphere together!

PS, if you’re in the Netherlands and looking for cornmeal, try a good toko. You may also have to buy polenta, but it serves the same purpose and generally smells and tastes the same. I personally found mine in the “foreign foods” section of the Super de Borers on Biltstraat, but I’ve seen it in the tokos in town and even one of the stalls in the Saturday market sells it.

Weather With You

I’ve had stuff to blog about the past few days, but I’ve lacked the motivation to do it. Maybe tomorrow, in between cooking the turkey and dressing and other Thanksgiving dishes, I’ll manage to post about what I got up to this past Saturday. In the meantime, here are a couple of photos of the crazy skies we get here in town sometimes. In one part of the sky, it looks like a gorgeous sunny day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Then when you turn around, there’s such a solid, grey mass of cloud that it looks like one of those giant alien space ship invasions!

We’ve got a possibility of snow arriving this Friday. There’s talk that this winter may be similar to last winter, with the unexpectedly high amounts of snow all winter. It’s a good thing I got some new boots! I hope you’re having nice weather wherever you are today and that you have a tasty Thanksgiving tomorrow if you’re celebrating.

Early Expats

On this day in which Americans around the world celebrate Thanksgiving — a case of expats/immigrants trying to make friends with the natives of their new homeland — I thought I’d mention some news about some early expats here in the Utrecht region. It seems that some untouched Roman graves have been found near IJsselstein, dating from around the second century AD. They may have been related to the Roman fort that was about 200 meters away.

As I mentioned previously, Utrecht was the location of a Roman fort built around 47 AD. There are also remains of the old city walls (as seen above), although they date from closer to the 1100s. We live right on the eastern edge of the old walled city. I guess Utrecht just can’t get rid of those Italians. G’s even made it inside the city walls. 😉

Now I’m off to give the oven a workout. Time to bake the sweet potatoes, turkey, and cornbread dressing. Plus, those regular potatoes aren’t going to mash themselves. Happy Thanksgiving to all who may be celebrating it, no matter where in the world you’re located.

Two-Day Meal

We managed to make it out today without getting drenched. It’s been overcast, but the rain has held off. We headed over to Biltstraat to visit the butcher and Super De Boers (another grocery store chain). At the butcher, we ended up buying half of a turkey breast. Sadly, they didn’t have any turkey legs and the breast is without skin. I’m not really sure how I’m going to cook it, but I’ll find a way. At least I’ll have enough left for sandwiches the next day. That’s the most important part.

I also managed to find some massive sweet potatoes — much bigger than any others I’ve seen here and bigger than the ones I used to find in the US, for that matter. I also got my pecans, so pie has been made today, along with cranberry sauce (with orange and ginger), and I made the cornbread for the dressing. We’ve got potatoes for mashing and green beans for topping with fried onion bits (sort of like the Dutch version of French’s onions), so I think we should have a nice Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

It’s been fun reading posts from other expats who are preparing for Thanksgiving, and seeing which ingredients are must-haves. It’s funny the simple ingredients that can get us so excited when we find them!