Where to Celebrate Thanksgiving Abroad
The fourth Thursday in November can be a lonely one for American expats the world over — while friends and family at home unite in loosening their trousers for Turkey Day, Americans abroad suddenly find themselves desperately homesick for the Thanksgiving classics they’d forgotten with a day-to-day diet of doner kebab, ramen, or bobotie. Although harvest festivals exist in many cultures outside of the United States (Erntedankfest in Germany, Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan, and of course Canadian Thanksgiving), the classic table spread of an American Thanksgiving, a holiday celebrating the abundance of the New World harvest, is not especially adaptable to countries where cranberries, pumpkin, squash, corn on the cob, and especially turkey are in short supply.
Having spent five Thanksgivings abroad, I’ve had to make do with what ingredients were available — duck instead of turkey, raspberry preserves swapped in for cranberries, apple pie filling for pumpkin — but the hardest part was trying to celebrate a holiday that nobody one else knew or cared much about. Fortunately, more and more U.S.-style steakhouses and American-themed restaurants in major cities across the globe are creating special menus for the Thanksgiving holiday, and even better, their events recreate a festive mood that will put you in proper celebratory spirits.
From Berlin to Bangkok, Moscow to Cape Town, these restaurants are offering classic, modern, or even Italian- and Cajun-themed menus featuring turkey (classic roast, stewed in gumbo, or cornbread-stuffed), pumpkin pie (or cheesecake, or pumpkin nut brittle), and everything in between. For home cooks, finding the ingredients for a Thanksgiving feast won’t be as hard with the help of a Parisian pastry shop that will whip you up a custom-order pie, and a mail-order turkey from meat wholesalers in Japan — though without days off, you might glad for the opportunity to skip working in the kitchen and eat out.