Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Day Fiasco

Thanksgiving in Italy turns out to be pretty much just like any other day, stores are open, people are at work, and (worst of all) I had to go to classes.  However, I was not going to let this stop me from partaking in the glorious festivities of the holiday, they were just going to have to be delayed by a day. 
The plan was that on Thursday night Kait and Cody (a couple that we’ve met here at the school and become good friends with) were going to come over to our house after classes were finished.  Our apartment is only equipped with one small convection oven, so the timing of the preparation of the meal was critical.  We were going to bake the pies on Thursday night and then put the Turkey in on Friday morning followed by the different casseroles.  The plan seemed like it should work pretty well and we were looking forward to a day full of an eating jubilee.  Of course, if you’ve read any of my other posts you know that nearly nothing over here ever seems to go exactly as planned…

We started Thursday evening right: Christmas music crooning in the background while we slice apples and mix ingredients for the apple and pumpkin pies.  The turkey and all other fixings were ready and waiting in the refrigerator (the smallest turkey Cody could find at the market was 15 lbs, so we were planning on a lot of leftovers…).  The pies are prepped so we pop them in the oven and start the dishwasher so that we have clean utensils for tomorrow’s preparations. 

Soon the apartment is filled with the wonderful aroma of spices.  The apple pie is coming along quite nicely, but the pumpkin is still quite goopy in the center.  All of a sudden, all of our appliances shut off.  The fridge, oven and dishwasher lose power.  Everything else in our apartment seems to be working, so we think that maybe it is a blown fuse on the breaker, but when we check the box, everything is still up.  For good measure, we switch them all on and off a few times, but nothing seems to work. 

I do know that there is a power limit here in Italy, and if you exceed that limit, your power turns off.  Usually you can just flip a switch on your breaker and get it back on, but I was thinking maybe this time was different for some reason.  We decide that maybe if we go to bed and turn out all the lights, the decrease in power will help and (hopefully) they will start working in the morning.  So, we all cozy down for the night with a soupy, half-baked pumpkin pie still in the oven and the scent of apple spice still hanging in the air. 

The next morning I wake up with great anticipation – the fate of our turkey dinner hanging in the balance.  Of course, it couldn’t be that easy.  All of the appliances were still dormant.  So far our Thanksgiving meal would be consisting of a partially baked apple pie, a liquefied pumpkin pie, and a raw turkey in the fridge.  Something had to be done. 

We grab the phonebook and start looking for electricians in our area.  We find the list and Brie starts calling each one.  “buongiorno, parle inglese?”  “NO!” *click.  As we moved down the list, a few would try to help, but no progress seemed to be made as none of them spoke enough English for us to really be able to communicate. 

Next plan of action – talk to someone face-to-face.  So, courageous Brie and Cody cross the street to our faithful Tabacchi to see if they can help us.  They are sent further down the road, leaving Carmel, Kait and I to sit in the house and wonder if our dreams about the perfect turkey will ever flourish into reality. 
An hour later, Cody and Brie come storming through the door.  Their mission had been successful.  Turned out they had to go all the way to our school and talk with the student advisor there.  She knew exactly what our problem was and a lady who works at the school’s husband is an electrician.  She called him and he was going to be over when he finished with a job he was working on. 

Things were turning up and I could almost smell the turkey cooking already.  We brewed some apple cider on the stove (thank goodness that runs on gas) and settle in to watch a Christmas Story while we wait.  At 2:30 PM, after finishing the movie and creating many paper snowflakes to decorate our apartment, the electrician shows up.  He prods around and unscrews our breaker box, removes the entire oven from the wall, but can’t seem to find the problem.  Then he pulls up the baseboard under the over and, with a flip of a switch, the appliances jolt back to life!  Turns out whoever installed the things was super smart and decided to put them all on a surge protector power strip.  The issue wasn’t our electricity at all, it was just that we had all three running at once and had tripped the power strip. 

After many thanks and replacing the various parts of our apartment back to order, the electrician leaves and we’re able to get to cooking.  We’re about six hours behind schedule, but we’re determined to finish this meal even if we have to wait up till 10 PM to eat turkey. 

First order of business is to finish baking the pies.  They go in the oven while we prep the turkey to go in right after.  Soon, both pies are baked to perfection and the giant turkey is stuffed in.  We’ve estimated the cooking time for the turkey to be about three and a half hours, so we hunker down for another movie while we wait.  We’re also really hungry at this point.  Seeing that we have two pies, we figure it can’t hurt to have a little bit of one before the meal and then the other after.  We proceed to eat the entire apple pie.

As the turkey cooks, we start to prep our other dishes: green bean casserole, cornbread casserole, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.  Soon, the sweet aroma of Thanksgiving is drifting through the air.  Finally, the turkey is finished and we quickly swap it out for the other casseroles.  The mashed potatoes and stuffing are finished and we whip up gravy with the turkey drippings. 

Cody does the honors of carving the turkey and we all sit down to enjoy the meal at 7 PM.  Soon, the casseroles are finished and we plunge into our second course.  The grand finale of pumpkin pie wraps up a practically perfect Thanksgiving meal.  Stuffed to the gills and quickly moving into a state of turkey-nosis, we decide to watch our third movie of the day, Elf. 

Although the day started out with quite a disaster, we were once again able to find a solution and come out the other end with a great story of our first solo Thanksgiving in Italy.

our half-baked pumpkin pie in an oven that doesn't work.

Yey! The oven works now!

Our wonderful Turkey, Tucker. 

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