DAILY BRIEFINGLand of the Pygmy Turkey
Nov. 24 - I was watching live coverage of the revolution in Georgia on EuroCNN yesterday when the coverage abruptly switched to "Design 360," a weekly magazine about international fashion and design. I'm still not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but in the dark and gloom of a Danish Monday morning I'm leaning toward bad.
I'll tell you why: because Al-Jazeera doesn't breakaway from rabid Palestinian mob scenes like the "massacre" at Jenin to broadcast chirpy segments on Riyadh Fashion Week. EuroCNN goes into a lot of the same homes as Al-Jazeera, and a lot of those homes contain people who could have learned a lot from the revolution in Georgia.
Specifically, they could have seen the compelling power of non-violence. I've often wondered what would happen if the Palestinians dropped their guns and bombs and cries of Death to the Jewish Pigs and Monkeys, and took a few pages out of the non-violent playbook instead. It worked in India, it worked for the civil rights movement in the states, it worked in eastern Europe and it even put the "former" in the former USSR. (It didn't work in Tiananmen Square, but them's the breaks—I doubt it would arouse much reform in Syria, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea, either.)
I think the news from Tblisi was a clinic on peaceful revolution, and I think EuroCNN did a lot of its viewers a disservice by breaking away from it.
That much said, their abrupt change gives me confidence that I myself can segue from these weighty international considerations to the my Thanksgiving struggles with shameless ease.
And my struggles are serious.
This is my first expat Thanksgiving ever. Trine and I are hosting just a little dinner—a mere six guests—but so far it's proving to be the hardest Thanksgiving ever.
The turkey is an elusive bird in Scandinavia, even this week. I'm used to American grocery stores at which, come the least couple of weeks in November, turkeys of all sizes, fresh and frozen, are piled up by the dozen. Big chains literally give them away (if you're willing to spend a few hundred dollars on the rest of your shopping).
Not so, here.
Here, we were told, we would probably have to put in a special order at our local butcher or supermarket to have a turkey suitable for roasting. So Saturday we went to Føtex, the grocery store around the corner, to place our order.
Such an order is not necessary, we were told by a clerk in the frozen food section. They had plenty of frozen turkeys in stock! I was dubious: I had already gone through the frozen poultry section and hadn't seen anything but duck and chicken.
The clerk pointed out where the turkeys were. There were five or six of them, identical in size, wedged into a little corner of one broad freezer.
"No," I told the clerk, "those are cute, but we need a turkey. Not an overgrown chicken: a turkey. At least twelve pounds. Can we just order one fresh?"
His eyes just about popped out of his head—you'd think I'd asked him for a forty-pound Tic Tac.
"You can order one fresh, but even then I don't think we can get them much bigger than 4 kilos."
That's about 8.8 pounds. Behold the land of the Pygmy Turkey!
We put off buying our turkey in the hopes that by Tuesday or Wednesday perhaps a larger bird would find its way into the Føtex freezers. My fingers are still crossed, but I'm not optimistic.
Maybe there's a way to roast and stuff a mackerel...
* * *
One of the reasons it was so important to do our Thanksgiving shopping over the weekend was that I'd tried to do a little late last week. I'd scoured four different grocery stores looking for canned pumpkin and had come up empty. No one we asked had ever recalled seeing such a product anywhere in Denmark.
Pumpkin is important for me, because our family doesn't just have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving: we start the meal with curried pumpkin soup. It's delicious and not many people have had it before, so it's also just the kind of show-offy thing you want to include in a dinner party.
It's mighty hard to make pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie without pumpkin, though—just as hard, for example, as having Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey. (I realize some Americans have those awful "tofurkeys" or whatever, but our guests aren't vegetarian and my sense of humor isn't quite perverse enough to confront them with such an abomination.)
In desperation I did what I always do when desperation strikes: I turned to Google. "denmark pumpkin," I tried. "thanksgiving food copenhagen." Nothing relevant came up. Finally, on one unlikely search, I got a single result. It was a handbook for students at some American university or other who'd be spending a semester abroad in Copenhagen. It was a PDF document, so I had to go through it page by page. It had all kinds of travel tips, notes on currency conversion, phone numbers of consulates, important electrical advice, and the like. Not much about pumpkins. Finally, on the very last line of the very last page of the document, it was noted that, when all hope was lost, Americans could always turn to the good old American Store downtown for those impossible-to-find staples of Americana—"such as canned pumpkin."
I hadn't really thought of canned pumpkin as a staple of Americana until then, but trust me—it is.
We went in and bought six cans on Saturday. We have a long way to go on getting this meal together, but I'm a little more optimistic now.
* * *
Today is the birthday of William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925), Dale Carnegie (1888), Scott Joplin (1868), Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864), Bat Masterson (1853), and Zachary Taylor (1784).
It's Anniversary of the New Regime Day in Zaire.
© 2003, The Moron's Almanac