Thanksgiving in my family, as in most, tends to be a very polarizing event. Tumultuous family circumstances have always led to Thanksgiving becoming more of a three-day event than a holiday, and though I love the food, I’m usually over it halfway through the first day. Thus, I was almost excited this year to realize, rather belatedly, that I wouldn’t have to “do” Thanksgiving at all. A number of restaurants, hotels, and other touristy places were holding dinners; mostly buffet style for large sums of money, and some people went to these dinners. Some people stayed home and cooked and tried to emulate Thanksgiving. I have found that this generally doesn’t end up working out too well. Someone always gets too bossy, or ends up doing all the dishes, or cannot believe that these sweet potatoes don’t have marshmallows in them, and it all degenerates into typical Thanksgiving, with too much wine being drunk and people arguing.
So, my friends and I decided that in honor of Thanksgiving, we were going to go on a full day food binge, without the turkey, stuffing, etc. We started the day with eggs, bacon, toast and Irish coffee. After lounging for a little while, for want of that altar of culture, the television that seems to always be on during American Thanksgivings, we made our way outside. We wandered through the Christmas market that has sprung up outside of Namesti Miru, the square and church that serves as the entrance hub to Vinohrady, our neighborhood. It was a pleasant enough day, rather warmer than it had been, with the sun occasionally peeking its head out from behind the clouds. We meandered through the market but, unsatisfied with our food selection there, we headed down the road to McDonald’s under the pretext of “eating American” on this American holiday. After consuming a Royale with Cheese (yes they call it that here, I think it’s a Europe-wide phenomenon, but we couldn’t resist making the Pulp Fiction references the first time we went, and we almost always get them, it’s that entertaining) and a chocolate milkshake, we headed back out to the streets. We hopped on a tram and made our way towards Old Town.
In Old Town we stopped for a couple beers at one of our favorite bars, Chapeau Rouge, a curious place decorated in a kind of modern gothic, red walled style. Sufficiently inebriated to start eating street food at two in the afternoon, we proceeded to the Old Town Square, which is filled with all sorts of wonderful treats, the two of which I consumed being a kielbasa sandwich and a waffle drizzled with chocolate sauce. I don’t think that waffles are typical Czech food, but it was just as good as the more traditional Czech sausage. This style of walking and bingeing continued, the only food of note being a smazeny syr (fried cheese), which is something like a mozzarella stick patty on a bun with mayonnaise. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it, it will change your life. We rounded out the evening with another “traditional” American food, Chinese.
All in all this experience of Thanksgiving was liberating. It made me homesick, true, because I do love Thanksgiving food, and I love having it prepared for me and lounging with my family watching television, but in the end I felt somehow more cosmopolitan, more adult, separated from the stuffiness of family and holiday tradition in a way I never knew I desired. It was a little like Thanksgiving on a sitcom, you know where nobody seems to have a family and Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, etc. all celebrate together, or Will and Grace have a party that all their friends show up to. As fake as that situation is, I realized I was enjoying living the less glamorous version of this story, emancipated. Europe is going to my head.