Friday, November 23, 2012

Last night, we celebrated our third Thanksgiving in Istanbul.

I replicated nearly all the American feast traditions so honestly you wouldn't even know that you were in a different country. Well, except for the multitude of empty Turkish wine bottles in our recycling bin today.

Thanksgiving time naturally gives way to people expressing gratitude for what they have in their lives. I thought I'd share what I'm thankful for too.

First, I'm thankful our Turkish turkey was delivered safely to our door. You don't know how difficult it is here to find a big bird unless it's later in December. Turks only roast whole turkeys to celebrate the new year. You're lucky to even find turkey meat the rest of the year, which means a whole turkey should be available too, right?

Second, I'm very thankful for my hardworking husband. He puts in long hours at the office and battles with the bloody awful Istanbul traffic five days a week. He bears with my emotional rants and always (almost always) does the dishes for me since I always cook. Thank you, honey!
This year it was hubby's job to carve my herb-butter-basted turkey.
I'm eternally grateful for the fantastic bunch of friends we've made in Istanbul! Once again, our Thanksgiving table was filled with friends from the U.S., Canada, Turkey, Pakistan and France. Our friends are like one big family to us. We talked. We laughed. I almost cried at one point. We hugged. Thanks, friends!
Filling up our plates American-style around the table.

The shrimp and grits, in the blue/white bowl, became a new tradition this year. Everyone loved the cheesy grits, which were inspired by our trip to Charleston, S.C. last month.
But holidays do make me miss our families back in the U.S. too. This year, I am extra thankful for both my parents. I'm very thankful my dad made it through his heart surgery back in May. It was a scary time for me when I first heard the news. I rushed back to the U.S. to be by my family. My dad has really slowed down since the surgery, but at least he's still here with us.

I'm also thankful for all the traveling we've been able to do since we moved to Istanbul. We've done many trips around Turkey, to Italy, to Germany, to Zürich and more. Friends often ask how we travel so much. Easy, you set a budget and look online for good airfare deals. We choose to spend our money on experiences and food versus things.

Looking back on just the last three weeks, I'm very thankful my emergency room visit in Istanbul wasn't for something worse. Though my nose is still a bit sore, I don't need surgery. I'll always have a few scars on my arms as a reminder of this crazy accident, but that's it. I'm very lucky.

As 2012 nearly comes to a close, it's as good as time as any to reflect on where you've come from, what you've experienced or survived and where you want to go in the future.

What are you thankful for this year?
Our Thanksgiving trio of desserts because you can't just have one!

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Alan said...

J's patience and tolerance - again!

Unknown said...

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so impressed what you managed to bring together and I love the pic of your gorgeous hubby doing the dishes! I am starting to pull together all the bits for our English/ Finnish/ Austrian Christmas in Istanbul. I, like you, just feel incredibly grateful for the extraordinary group of friends that we have made here. And the hours Ville puts in to keep our whole complicated family funded! I am really looking forward to your Christmas posts....

jaz@octoberfarm said...

your dinner looks fantastic! i bet your friends were thrilled to be able to share this with you!

Kim, Living to Seas the Moment said...

It all looks incredible! We had friends to join us this year too since we are also spending our 3rd Thanksgivng away from home. It was great to have our British neighbor and her Italian-American hubby at our table. Would you be so kind to share your shrimp-n-grits recipe? Living in the Carolinas this I want to love this dish but have yet to find the recipe I enjoy enough to duplicate it! Happy Thanksgiving a day late...or two with the time difference!

Joy said...

@Alan, nice ones! My husband also has the tolerance of a saint with me. ;-)

@Julia, hope you had a good Thanksgiving too! It looks like we will be celebrating Christmas in Istanbul too as our travel budget has been depleted. Friends are what make the days go by so fast for me!

@Joyce, thank you! You know how many hours it goes into preparing a meal like this too.

@Kim, the grits recipe turned out really great! Everyone loved it! Who knew? ;-) The key is lots of butter and chicken stock. I used old-fashioned stone ground yellow grits from Charleston. I'll either post or send you the recipe soon.

Manya said...

As usual, your desserts look awesome and the shrimp and grits look like a great side dish. So nice of you to share it with folks from different countries/cultures.

Erica (Irene) said...

urtves"Happy Thanksgiving"! Your table looks fantastic and delicious. Glad you were able to share your dinner with friends.....I also made turkey yesterday and today we went to fight the crowds for Black Friday!

Thanks for sharing. :-)

Joy said...

@Manya, thank you for the compliments! One of our Turkish friends' tried grits for the first time in her life and said it reminded her of Italian polenta. :-)

@Erica (Irene), well hope you had a happy Thanksgiving with your family too. Hope you got some bargains at Black Friday! That's one thing I definitely don't miss from the US!

Unknown said...

Looks fantastic! - Next year I will have to plan a trip to Istanbul around Thanksgiving! LOL--

Joy said...

@American in Norway, LOL, let us know ahead of time! We always have enough food.

BacktoBodrum said...

Happy Thanksgiving - Nice to see your husband in the kitchen.