How to beat the Thanksgiving blues in Madrid

Step one: Decide last-minute to go to a Thanksgiving dinner attempted by Spaniards.
I was really sad this year to not be home for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday! And it was tough to think about everyone else eating a delicious meal, playing games, and then going to a movie while I was busy running around teaching children, taking classes, and just trying to make it through the day without passing out from exhaustion. That’s why when my friend Stacy suggested that I come to her house to eat the Thanksgiving dinner her Spanish roommates were cooking on Thursday after our classes, I said yes.

Marcus, Stacy, and I arrived at Stacy’s around 9:00 and no one was there yet. BUT there were two chickens roasting in the oven! Eventually everyone showed up and we ate around 11:00 or 11:30 (so Spanish). I tricked the Spaniards into thinking it was a tradition to say five things you’re thankful for so that was fun. Then we ate the chicken (delicious), mashed potatoes from a box, broccoli with cheese sauce, and salad. It was pretty good, and definitely had me feeling better. By the time the homemade apple pie came out, I wasn’t feeling too sad at all. But then it was 12:30, I was drunk off of wine, and I had to work the next day.

Step two: Invite your American friends over for a Thanksgiving potluck at your recently renovated apartment.
Obviously, we had to have our own Thanksgiving dinner and do it up right. Because my apartment is pretty spacious compared to some, it seemed to make sense to have the dinner at my house on Saturday afternoon.

This is my living room.


So, anyway, I invited people over, but I was pretty nervous about ruining the new, pretty apartment. I was sort of a dictator about it, and it got worse as the night went on and I drank more and more wine. I hope that I was still an OK hostess, despite my neurosis. Everything did turn out fine, though. My friends were great about respecting my desire for cleanliness, and the dishwasher sure helped, too. By the time we left for the bars (6 hours after people arrived to eat) the house pretty much looked like no dinner had ever been had.

Step three: Attempt to make a traditional dish from scratch.
I remembered that last time Keira and I had a Thanksgiving dinner in Spain, Keira made some homemade stuffing that tasted delicious. I decided to take on the stuffing, and I decided to make it vegetarian for my friend Stacy. I looked up a recipe, and got some tips from my mom, but ultimately just did a lot of guessing and hoping that it would turn out OK.

There were so many questions I had while making this. Like, how much would be enough for everyone? How much of each ingredient should I use (I didn’t measure anything)? Did I want it to be crispy or moist? How do you say thyme and sage in Spanish? Would it taste the same with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth?

In the end, it turned out really well. I think the secret was tons of butter. I sautéed half an onion in a bunch of butter then added some celery and vegetable broth and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Then I added three beaten eggs, salt, parsley and basil (guessed on what the spices were called…and was wrong) to about three-quarters of a loaf of white sandwich bread that I had cubed and left out to dry the night before. Then when my vegetable broth mixture had cooled slightly (didn’t want to scramble the eggs) I added it to the bread as well. I mixed it and put it in the oven at about 250 degrees centigrade. I cooked it for quite a while because I ultimately decided I wanted it to be crispy.

It came out crispy, moist, and delicious! Everyone complimented it and it made me really happy.

Step four: Have your friends bring delicious food to share.
Annie brought some really delicious Brussels sprouts and some sorbet with jam and cookies for dessert. Marcus brought the best mashed potatoes ever. Emily brought really good sweet potatoes.  Stacy brought an assortment of different types of deviled eggs. And Horti brought our main course: Pollo de Alcala (chicken from this AMAZING chicken restaurant in Alcala.)

Our meal was delicious and wonderful.

Step five: If you’re still feeling down, drink away your sorrows and laugh a lot by playing a drinking game.
After eating, we sat and watched TV for a while (I cleaned.) Then we decided to play King’s Cup. Some were only drinking water, but it was hilarious all the same.

(Asa is a lot bigger than the rest of us, but in this photo he’s sitting on a stool, which is why he appears even more giant than usual.)

After eating and drinking until our stomachs almost exploded, we of course went out to a bar. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and I got to use all the fancy coffee cups and dessert dishes that we have at our house for entertaining.

It was ALMOST as good as being at home, especially since I got to share it with my surrogate Madrid family.


About juliemcg

Marketing, writing, editing, traveling, social media-ing woman from Colorado.
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One Response to How to beat the Thanksgiving blues in Madrid

  1. Lo says:

    Awwww, friend! That looks like so much fun! One of my favorite Thanksgivings was while I was abroad… my friends and I made SO MUCH food, drank a lot of wine, ran around on the roof of their Italian apartment (it was not a flat roof, and honestly I think the shingles were made of terracotta and we probably broke them all). Yay. And your stuffing looks DELISH. My aunt put sausage in hers, so uh–not vegetarian.

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