Coming of Age in Milan Cooking Turkey for Thanksgiving

In American culture you have not come of age until you have cooked a turkey and hosted a Thanksgiving meal with enough people that you are forced to resort to the foldout chairs. I reached this marker last year, just short of my 40th birthday (I’m a late bloomer), with nine people at the table. This past weekend I took it a step further with a cool 15 people at the meal, not at the table as people were forced to sit wherever they could find space – chairs, sofa, floor.

There is an Italian connection to this Thanksgiving meal, and hence an explanation for this post. First off, me being in Italy dictated that the meal be held on Saturday instead of Thursday because the Italians for some reason don’t celebrate this terrific holiday. This is, I know, a bit sacrilegious, but living here in Milan I’ve gotten used to this necessity. Secondly, in true big-Italian-family fashion, the bulk of the guests were cousins of my wife with five showing up unannounced. The more the merrier, this is Thanksgiving after all.

My turkeys are still a tad dry and I don’t have the carving down too well, but with two Thanksgiving meals under my belt (literally and figuratively) I have officially entered manhood. Now that’s something to celebrate, finally, as I’m not going to see the other side of 39 anytime soon.

A last thought, though I need to perfect the turkey, my stuffing is great so if you want to invite me next year that’s what I’ll bring.

This is really the last thought: I read on many sites that you need about a pound of turkey – pre-cook weight – per person to satisfy all guests and have a little leftover. My turkey was nine pounds on the dot and we feed 15 and had enough for three people to have lunch the next day. Perhaps there’s a simple explanation and that is that the Italian cousins didn’t understand a key part of the Thanksgiving meal is to eat until you have to unbutton the pants and open the belt. I’ll explain that better next year.

6 thoughts on “Coming of Age in Milan Cooking Turkey for Thanksgiving

  1. Haha. Sounds like it was a great meal. Did you have cranberry relish though? Come si dice ‘cranberry” in Italiano? Secondo me non esistono….

    You’ve seemed manly for a while but glad it’s now official :).

  2. Out in California we call it cranberry sauce. I managed to find some sugar-free cranberry jam and then put that to boil for a while with some lemon juice and sugar. Was a very good substitute for the real stuff my mom makes from the actual berries. I’ve been in Italy for ages, literally ages, and have never figured out how to translate cranberry. Maybe there is no translation, which would almost make sense as I’ve never seen them here.

    Glad my manliness has become official, been waiting a long time for that.

  3. But wait! No note on the butcher that sold you the tremendous bird?!

    The wife always has told me “mirtillo rosso” for cranberry but I agree it’s frustratingly imprecise, just like a lot of translations for nuts.

    Full disclosure: I don’t really like turkey that much and have pledged/threatened that when I cook Thanksgiving for 9-15 people it will be either Balkan grill or a massive lasagna. What’s more American than immigrant food?!

  4. You are right, I should have mentioned the butcher cause he is awesome. The place is called Walter Sirtori and it’s on Via Paolo Sarpi in the heart of Chinatown. I’m not hugely into meat, but when I get it I want it to be good so I go there. They have been open since 1931.

    • Cute cute cute! Happy Thanksgiving! I am also thankful for these thigns. Also, my kitty, when I find a really good, old piece of clothing for cheap, and libraries.

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