Thanksgiving in Damascus
Thanksgiving came a day late in Damascus, but it was well worth the wait. The director of the American Cultural Center hosted a catered meal for the Fulbright students in his sprawling flat in an upscale district of West Damascus.
But for the absence of American football on television, it was an American Thanksgiving like any other: turkey, stuffing -- both cooked inside the turkey and separately -- mashed potatoes, gravy, steamed carrots and cauliflower, yams, cranberries. For desert: pecan and pumpkin pie. The harder-to-find-ingredients -- cranberries and canned pumpkin -- were obtained at the well-stocked commissary of the U.S. embassy in Amman. I ate two heaping plates of everything, then a piece each of the pies.
A few hours later, an American friend hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. Rarely one to turn down an invitation for food, or to lose my appetite, I attended. Her turkey was actually a large chicken, but it was a good substitute. She also served diced, sautéed potatoes, scalloped onions, stuffing and a wide assortment of wine and beer. I served myself just one helping, saving room for chocolate cake and Lebanese beer.