Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Malagasy Thanksgiving

This post is fairly late getting up here, but since everyone has been inquiring about my turkey/my Thanksgiving celebration, I’ll talk a little bit about that. The day was a huge success! Philbert Kely’s health problems continued, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to eat him for Thanksgiving dinner, so I was prepared to purchase a new bird closer to the day. Then he mysteriously disappeared, and when I inquired about him I got some suspicious answers from my neighbors. I’m pretty sure they may have sold him to a local Malagasy restaurant without telling me, though I haven’t been able to confirm that. Either way, we ended up eating a different bird for our Thanksgiving celebration.

Shayla, the only other volunteer near me, came over and we had green beans, mashed potatoes, STUFFING FROM AMERICA (thanks Mom!), and “sweet potato casserole.” A combination of foods being different colors/shapes/sizes here and my poor language skills resulted in me buying a million pounds of yams instead of sweet potatoes. And I did not realize this until after I had started trying to mash them up. I had marshmallows I had bought in Tana after swearing-in so I decided to see what would happen anyway. It ended up being DELICIOUS. We set up a buffet table in my back yard and let everyone prepare their plates.

My neighbors killed and prepared the turkey. I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to kill the bird myself, but apparently it’s taboo for women to kill animals in my region. There also wasn’t any feasible way to roast a turkey, but my neighbor’s sister cooked it in a pot with oil, curry, tomatoes, onions, and some other spices. Not your typical Thanksgiving turkey, but still amazing.

A bunch of my friends from the neighborhood came over for the feast. I’m not sure anybody really liked the food too much—there were some funny facial expressions and I had a sneaking suspicion most people were trying to politely force the food down. When I asked if everyone liked American food, many of them said, “Eka fa mbo tsy zatra,” which basically means, “Yes, we’re just not accustomed to it yet.” Here you can see the looks of hesitation on the face of Anniko, a girl who lived just down the street from me in my old house, and some of my other former neighbors.

Shayla and I, on the other hand, were beyond satisfied. It ended up being far closer to an American Thanksgiving than I ever would have imagined could be possible in Madagascar. During the meal I explained as best I could in my broken Malagasy how the tradition was started and why we celebrate the holiday. I certainly have a new appreciation for it after my first several months here in Madagascar. I told my friends I can relate to being the outsider who doesn't know how to speak the same language or find and prepare food, and that I've been grateful to everyone in my village who has welcomed me and tried to help me get settled in. It was definitely an odd way to celebrate the day, but I'm glad I was able to successfully share it with my community here.

1 comment:

  1. How cool that you would even be able to have any kind of Thanksgiving.

    Sorry about your turkey that "ran away"


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