This years Thanksgiving feast was like no other I've experienced before.
Early afternoon J and I helped A and her hubby R and the rest of A's family setup for the Thanksgiving party. Every year her parents host a celebration gathering for their friends and family in the NY Russian community. The party averages 25-50 guests and features Russian cuisine, live music (courtesy of A's father and brother) and lots of laughter and joy.
Although I would miss the traditional American turkey and fixins I looked forward to broadening my culinary horizons. I did not have any experience with Russian food prior to this event.
We setup the main table in the party room upstairs with the main entrees...
From left to right: (back row) seafood salad, cabbage turnovers, chicken dumplings, fried white fish, spiced chicken in crepes. (front row) pickled cabbage, onion/pea/carrot salad, beet salad, vinegar roasted pork, 2nd dish of chicken in crepes, 2nd dish of chicken dumplings.
Turkey wings with spiced apples.
Then, we setup 4 tables for dining and garnished them with all the necessary accompaniments...
Tables waiting for guests. Notice all the fine liquor!
Smoked fish platter, pickled cabbages and cucumbers, beer/wine, and chicken livers.
Pickled green tomatoes & peppers, wine, fresh bread.
Selection of vodka, cognac, wine & beer, beet salad, dried fish
Close up of dried fish. Stinky!!!
The guests soon filed in and before long the room was filled with laughter. Downstairs, family and friends milled about in the kitchen as well.
A (right) assists her mama (left) in preparing food to take upstairs while interested guests look on.
One of my favorite guests. The life of the party.
Myself (right) and hubby J.
A's mama enjoys a quick refreshing liquor break mid-party.
R (A's hubby), A, and my hubby J enjoy the festivities.
Making time to give thanks and toast America.
The party had begun at noon and lasted until late in the evening. I bravely tried each and every dish that was offered. Sadly, my palette is so Americanized (I'm theorizing here) that I could not appreciate the cuisine and nothing that I sampled tasted good to me except for the smoked fish with bread. In fact, just the smell of the dried fish (not to be confused with the yummy smoked fish; see pics above) under my nose brought on nausea and I had to bow out of the party for an hour or so while I laid down in the guest room to recover. I was very disappointed in myself for having such an unsophisticated palette but that's just the way it is. I did appreciate the cranberry vodka. So that's something, right? J found the food to be much more agreeable, eating his fill.
After dinner, most folks wandered downstairs to enjoy the live entertainment. I chatted with most of the guests and A's family, picking up bits and pieces of Russian as I went and practicing a few phrases A taught me. A's father is/was a professional musician- his clarinet work is superb. And he told me I spoke Russian beautifully with only a light American accent. What a lovely thing to say, and I was very flattered.
A's father plays for the crowd.
Family friend plays the keyboard in accompaniment.
As the party wore down and the guests departed, my appetite returned. I was hungry! I was not going to browbeat myself into trying to like Russian cuisine any further, so A, R, J and I hopped in the car and went in search of an all night diner. A didn't appear to hold my culinary failings against me, for which I'm grateful. Everything was closed of course because of the holiday so I must report that I ended up eating a shriveled hot dog and mac and cheese from 7-11 for my Thanksgiving meal. Classic!
By the time we returned to the home of A's parents it was almost 1am and we all rushed to get to bed as we had plans to wake at 4:30am to hit the Black Friday Sales.
A Thanksgiving that will never be forgotten. Each moment I spent with A's family I fell in love with them a little bit more.