We Americans knew that being away from home wouldn’t be easy this Thanksgiving season. So, some of us decided to bring a little taste of home here to the Folkehøjskole by cooking a Thanksgiving feast for all the Danes. A full menu of traditional foods was brainstormed and presented to the main chief of the school. Everything was planned out perfectly and we were ready for the big meal.
The morning of the big day (we celebrated a day early since we don’t have class Wednesday) we found out some exciting yet daunting news. Jonas, the main chief who had planned to help us, wife had just gone into labor. After feeling excited for him, we suddenly felt a little overwhelmed as we realized that we would have to start all of our planning from scratch. Luckily we had some great guidance from the rest of the kitchen staff.
However, all of the cooking was up to us. Usually the first Thanksgiving meal you cook for people can be pretty daunting. So imagine the pressure we felt for cooking our first Thanksgiving meal for around 100 Danes and teachers.
Michelle, Grace, Alana, Aleah, and I began the process of figuring out how to make this dinner happen. We planned for turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, 4 pumpkin pies, 4 pecan pies, 6 green bean casseroles, 6 pineapple casseroles, cornbread, gravy, brussels sprouts, and stuffing. Luckily we had some help from Pete’s mom later on in the afternoon.
While rushing to get this all done in a time span of 6 hours, we ran into a few obstacles along the way. First, all of our ingredients were in Danish. Second, we needed to convert cups and Fahrenheit from our American (Paula Dean) recipes into grams and Celsius. Can’t remember the last time I did so much math. Not to mention multiplying our recipes for enough to feed 100 was a task in itself.
As for ingredients, we usually had to improvise. For our pumpkin pies, Michelle and I were given a fresh pumpkin instead of pumpkin from a can. That was an interesting task to conquer. Also, we had to used polenta mix instead of cornbread mix. (But it was good!) Also for the pineapple casserole, we didn’t have any Ritz crackers so we made do with sweet dessert ones. It still tasted just as delicious! In order to make the dinner successful, it called for some last minute doctoring and guesstimating when it came to the recipes. Our moms would be so proud!
While we were finishing up in the kitchen, others were decorating the eating area with a hygge Thanksgiving feel. Once all the food was out, it tied together perfectly! While the Danes waited for their food, we led an “arts and craft” project. Everyone made hand turkeys and wrote what they were thankful for. Then, all of us Americans presented the food and gave a little background on the meaning of Thanksgiving. It turned out to be a very educational, fun, and most importantly yummy experience.
I was very proud with the popularity of Michelle and mine’s pineapple casserole from not only the Danes but also my northern friends who had never heard of the southern dish. Even the director of the school stood up and announced that he never thought pineapple and cheese would be good together, but he loved it!
I can speak for everyone when saying that it was so great to be able to give many of our European friends their first ever Thanksgiving meal. It will definitely be a night I will never forget. I am so lucky for my life here in Denmark, and I’m thankful for it every day!