The last few days have centered around mostly Thanksgiving-y activities. Last year I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the first time for Max's parents, this year I cooked for them and friends. At first I was concerned about the menu I planned, asking Max if he thought it was too boring. Then I remembered that Thanksgiving is a novelty here and most of my guests had never even eaten pumpkin pie or squash before (which to me is inconceivable. ;)
I spent most of Friday prepping stuff and baking the lime tart and pumpkin pie (the pumpkin from fresh, not canned. Fresh is always better). Saturday afternoon I stuffed the 16 lb turkey-beast with fresh herbs and started it roasting. I had never cooked such a large meal for so many people before, so I was nervous about having too little of everything.
starter: bruschetta with garlic olive oil, pesto, goats cheese, tomato, fresh basil, and a few drops of the Milanese olive oil and a few bowls of mixed marinated olives.
main: turkey-beast (which came out perfectly moist, despite it trying to attack us with hot burning fat every time we opened the oven door), roasted acorn squash with brown sugar and rosemary, mashed potatoes, giblet and sage gravy, and fresh cranberry sauce.
dessert: the aforementioned pumpkin pie and lime tart.
I think our friends were a little hesitant when they arrived, not sure what to expect. But everything was devoured, people having seconds, even thirds (and unbuttoning their trousers, in true Thanksgiving fashion). Nearly all of the turkey and pie were gone by the end (I thought we'd be eating Turkey for the next 3 weeks). Paul (the New Zealander) said he never thought that cranberry sauce and turkey would go well together, but that it went surprisingly well. He also looked dubiously at the squash and pumpkin pie, but said the squash made a nice change from the typical veg you get in England and he asked me what spices I put in the pie. He had seconds of both.
I think we drank about 8 bottles of wine and champagne. The main ones I remember was one Sauvignon that tasted like roses and a beautifully smooth bottle of 1993 Anjou red.
Everything went without a hitch and everyone enjoyed themselves and the food. Throughout the preparation I kept thinking to myself, "There's no way in hell I'm doing this next year.. " but after I saw how much everyone liked it, I think I will do it again. :)
Today we're going to the doctor's in order for me to get on the NHS and I'll have my first check-up in about 4-5 years. Because my family never had medical insurance I became used to putting things off because of the high cost of medical care in America. Plus, after being screwed over at age 18 for $3,000 for a medical procedure that might not have even been necessary (on my birthday, no less), I have little trust for doctors anymore. There's several things I should have had checked out years ago, but never did because of these reasons. Hopefully I'll escape from the doctor's office today with a clean bill of health.
Tomorrow we're going on a road trip up north so I can see the area of England Max grew up in. The furthest north we're travelling is Whitby, which is a small town in North Yorkshire that I've heard a lot about (Bram Stoker wrote Dracula there and it is where Dracula arrives by boat to England in the novel). Max insists I'm going to try smoked kippers.
I haven't been to Whitby since I went there with my primary school when I was 10. I can't remember much about it, apart from this creepy looking church type thing high up on a hill which we climbed up to on the last day. It's a typical British holiday resort: wet and very windy.
Dracula is currently being serialized on Radio 4. Episode six is tonight (10:45 pm).
I don't think British doctors have any pecuniary interest in giving you unnecessary operations, so the system is probably different. And a check-up is free (though this isn't true of the dentist - if you can even find an NHS dentist - but if you do find one, they are probably still cheaper than the private ones). Good luck!
My passport arrived in only one week.