Over the River and Through the Woods…
Over the river and through the woods? Well, more like avoid the pothole, dodge the bus, and find a place to park. And once you have done that, a succulent turkey dinner awaits… now. Not so, a few years ago.
Back in 2000, a watershed year for Boomers decamping to Mexico, Thanksgiving was very different here in the City of Peace. There were very few restaurants, and hardly any of them served a traditional and tasty American-style Thanksgiving dinner.
In fact, horror tales were told about folks sneaking turkeys across the border so that the family could be fed. Then some scrawny frozen turkeys made their appearance in the old CCC (now Chedraui) grocery store. Okay, they weren’t Butterballs with pop-up timers, but they were turkeys. But, even after there were turkeys, there were no roasting pans! No, really! To be fair, the pans eventually arrived several months later, piled high at the ends of the grocery store aisles, probably courtesy of Safeway dumping its overstock to make room for BBQ supplies. Smart shoppers and planners scored a foil roasting pan or two and put them away for the next Thanksgiving.
Shopping back then was an exercise in communication and creativity. When someone was shopping for the holidays and they spied whole cranberries in the bag, the drumbeat would go out over the Coconut Telegraph, and in half a day all of them would be gone. Yams (camote in Spanish) were plentiful, but inconsistent – sometimes wonderfully sweet, sometimes woody. There were canned yams on the shelf, over in the fruit aisle, and those would do in a pinch, but what about stuffing? No Pepperidge Farm Savory Stuffing mix was to be found, so some Bimbo white bread was pressed into service. Now we have access to artesanal bread, Orowheat thousand-grain bread, and various stuffing mixes to fill the bird.
Canned cranberries will NEVER grace the table of My Beloved. But Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce is unthinkable. So having read about how the tuna, the red fruit of the pitahaya cactus has a cranberry-raspberry taste, I bought some, cooked them up and passed them off as cranberry sauce. No one noticed; they even complimented my very tasty sauce. When they asked, “What did you put in them?” I enjoyed the baffled silence that followed my answer: “Tuna.”
You newcomers who complain that you cannot find a free-range, grain -fed, happy-to-its-last-day organic turkey do not know what suffering is! Two years ago, there was no Libby’s (or anybody’s) pumpkin puree. There was no pumpkin pie served at most of the restaurants in town. Cheesecake is good, but not so much on Turkey Day.
If you are so inclined you can find all the fixin’s for a traditional turkey dinner to cook at home, and you can even watch the Macy’s parade and a football game or two.
If you’d rather not cook, there are all styles and prices of turkey dinners available at many restaurants in town. After years of cooking for our group of 6 couples, and in the year we built a house, I announced there would be no turkey cooked at my house. I was worn out. Salmon I would do. But no all-day turkey and fixings marathon. The guest all worked, and would come home to my house redolent with the flavors and aromas of a feast. I worked as well. But I could arrange my schedule any way that I liked. While the restaurants in town put on a nice Thanksgiving dinner for expats, my crowd all worked for the Mexican government. Thanksgiving is not a holiday for them.
Oh the whining and the tantrums about no turkey dinner. But no one stepped up.
After that for a few years we would go out to dinner for Thanksgiving.
But the best part of turkey day is the leftovers. So I decided that I would order two complete entrees to go. And come Friday afternoon, we would have leftovers!
This is the second Thanksgiving that My Beloved will not be here to share Thanksgiving with me, and our friends. But he will still be a presence at our table. I am heading north to Dallas to be with my daughter and her family and friends. But we will toast his memory.
Thank you, My Love, for all of the holidays we were able to share together.