Travel Writing by Cory Hanson

Irish Thanksgiving Memories

Now that we’re back in the land of freedom and frappuccinos and the kind of football that requires a helmet and a 400-page manual detailing the finer points of what constitutes catching a ball, we can again celebrate one of my favorite American holidays with friends and family.

But in preparing for a day of gorging myself on the fruits of someone else’s stressful morning of cooking requiring rock-solid timing and execution, I can’t help but look back and laugh at our three attempts at an Irish-American Thanksgiving back in our tiny Dublin apartment. Thankfully, with the help of the old blog, I can put myself back in the thick of things with only a click.

In 2013, we cobbled together enough ingredients to make something like a traditional Midwestern Thanksgiving dinner: turkey (the earliest Christmas turkeys were just hitting supermarket freezers at the end of November), pumpkin pie (we found a very expensive can of pumpkin mix at Dublin’s high-end import store), and green bean casserole (with a bag of Hunky Dorys Irish potato chips for our crispy topping).

I spent the day making bread, potatoes and gravy, and finishing the brine of our turkey in the vegetable crisper drawer of our tiny dorm-sized fridge.

I can still remember the (probably toxic) plastic bowls full of the best dishes I could assemble with our limited kitchen kit and few square feet of counter space. But despite the limitations in presentation, the holiday itself was well-observed; Sara and I visited with our families on video chat and sat down to a nostalgic American meal, thankful for the opportunity to live and work in a country as beautiful as Ireland.

One year later, we were expat experts and fully at home in our tiny home. Sadly, turkeys weren’t yet in stock for the Irish Christmas season, so we subbed in a duck, thinking it wouldn’t be a smoky, greasy mess in the oven. Those who have cooked duck before know that we were very, very wrong. At least I was more comfortable cooking in our small kitchen with limited equipment.

For our final Irish Turkey Day, we decided to host an American-style pie-and-cider party for some international friends. The American expat presence had grown so much in our neighborhood that our local supermarket had started stocking pumpkin mix — and other American treats like Pop-Tarts and Twinkies. (I ran into a fellow American on Thanksgiving morning in the ethnic aisle, and we exchanged a “happy Thanksgiving” as we loaded our baskets with canned pumpkin and evaporated milk.)

At home, wise about the dangers of duck, we cooked an easy turkey breast, watched football, and wondered where we’d be come Thanksgiving 2016. And here we are, back in the U S of A and ready to celebrate the holiday with the ones we love. Wherever you’re kicking it this Thanksgiving, here’s hoping you have a great one.

Just don’t do a duck, and if you’re grinding your own cloves, invest in a mortar and pestle.


  1. November 23, 2016    

    As usual I’ll be celebrating with American friends in our little Meath village, can’t wait to eat pumpkin pie (my favourite part of the dinner!!). Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

    • November 25, 2016    

      Thanks! Hope you had a great holiday with your American friends!

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