by Candace Sheehan
As appeared in the Seattle Times, November 16, 2008
When my husband and I returned from living in Italy for the past year, we knew we had an experience of a lifetime. We studied Italian for a year, we read everything we could get our hands on about Italian culture, what documents we would need to have, and prepared for whatever a new life there would bring and what we could give back to Italy as expats living there.
We lived in the small hilltown of Montefalco, which in located in the Umbria region of Italy, known as the Green Heart of Italy. It seemed perfect for two people from the Pacific Northwest, and we have fallen in love with this area of Italy for a long time.
We met many incredible people while living there and many will remain friends for our lifetime. As you can imagine, there are many stories and experiences from 14 months of living there but this one seems appropriate with the leaves turning color and knowing that we will have Thanksgiving here in a few short months.
One of our friends, an expat from West Chester PA, who owns and operates a B&B outside the walls of Montefalco, had promised her Italian neighbors and friends in the area that she would, one day, serve an American Thanksgiving to them all. That day came last year on the Saturday before our American Thanksgiving here.
They all were all so excited because they had seen movies of our Thanksgivings and had wanted to taste things like Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes with Giblet Gravy (not even knowing what that was), Pumpkin Pie, and all that was part of our Thanksgiving feast that we all take for granted.
When you live in Italy there are many items that are not part of the Italian diet – cranberries, yams, pecans, canned pumpkin, and those canned French fried onion rings being some of them. We wrote to friends and family here and requested these items to be sent to us knowing that they may not be there in time for the dinner.
An order for a big turkey was placed with Davide, the local Macceleria (butcher shop) in Montefalco. John and I made green bean casserole and French fried onion rings made from Tempura batter we had found in Spain. Angela, an expat originally from England, brought back garnet yams from Barcelona, and Susan, our hostess, bought Canned Pumpkin Pie filling in London on a visit with friends. The dinner was beginning to take shape. Our friends were coming from Seattle to spend Thanksgiving in Italy with us and they graciously brought FRESH cranberries, pecans, and Miracle Whip (for the day after Thanksgiving sandwiches) stuffed in their suitcases.
As all 14 of us sat down to the beautiful table with the HUGE turkey laid out in splendor, there was a gasp from the Italians – “It is just like the movies” they all exclaimed in wonder! As all the Thanksgiving dishes were being passed around the table, our Italian friends asked if the food was all to be placed on the same plate? Do you eat it all at once? They were amazed that you would not eat all of this food in courses as they do when they have their meals. It is a Thanksgiving we will never forget and one that embodies the meaning of it. We were so thankful to have shared this experience with such an incredible gathering of people. Our Italian friends still talk about this meal and want to have another one this year. We only wish we could be there with them.
Candace is a loyal Poggi Bonsi customer and we try to keep her supplied with Rosso di Montefalco and we can’t wait until her book is published so we can host a signing event!
Visit www.poggibonsigifts.com to see our luxurious collection of linens loomed in Montefalco, Italy.