Hello, Friends! It has been almost 2 months since I posted here, but here’s a quick update. Since I last wrote, we’ve had two sets of visitors and a slew of sickness. I’m not trying to make excuses, but… that’s my excuse.
You may be wondering, how did we celebrate Thanksgiving in Asia? Here’s a little description from an email I sent to a friend:
The boys had school on Thanksgiving, so in the evening we went to this swank restaurant with a Thanksgiving buffet for Americans. It was really random and funny. The traffic was bad so it took us quite a while to get there, even though it’s not that far from our house. We had never been there before. It gets dark out at 5:45 here, so it was dark when we pulled in. The restaurant is called Circa 1900 and is a big old house built, uh, circa 1900. Unlike most of the modern houses here, it was wooden, with white clapboard siding…almost like a southern plantation house. There was a yard with trees and picnic tables with luminaries. And hanging from the trees were glowing capiz globes. Capiz globes are hard to describe. There is a shell called capiz that is harvested in the Philippines, and they slice it up into thin, translucent slices. Apparently they used to use it for windows (instead of glass). Now they make all sorts of ornaments and decorations with it—especially these globes, where they fuse the pieces into a globe (kinda the way stained glass is fused together), wire them with a light bulb and hang them from the trees. The effect is absolutely magical…
Anyway, back to Thanksgiving: we went inside, found a table, and they even had 2 high chairs for us to use (whew!). We set Clementine and Knox in the high chairs side by side, the only way they would fit because the table was placed against the wall. Normally we put them at opposite ends of the table and Ben handles Knox while I handle Clementine. But Knox and Clementine just loved being next to each other. They fed one another throughout the meal. It was hilarious.
On to the important part: the food. The restaurant is actually Australian. I’m not sure what they normally serve… And we can’t have terribly high expectations for a Thanksgiving meal cooked by Australians, can we? There was a turkey. I could see the entire bird, but the serving dish was full of little bite-size slices of turkey, the way you would cut it up for a toddler. As I was standing there surveying the food, the chef came out of the kitchen. He took one look at the dish of turkey bits and very kindly started instructing the Filipino waiter serving as “turkey carver” on how to carve the turkey properly. Aussie chef said, “You slice it this way, so there are big, thin slices—not all chopped up. You see this?” He motioned at the platter of chopped turkey. “I don’t want to see this happen again.”
Beside the turkey was a ham, then beef, then fish. There was cornbread stuffing, but it didn’t look or taste like cornbread stuffing. Roasted potatoes with other root vegetables, no mashed potatoes, crisp-tender green beans (every American knows you’re supposed to boil them to a mushy mess for Thanksgiving, but I didn’t object to the Aussie interpretation for this), several Creole dishes, goat cheese hors d’oeuvres, pumpkin soup that was all wrong, and little apple pie, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie tartlets. All in all it was pretty good, though perhaps the food alone was not worth the $100+ we spent to be there. But having a decent Thanksgiving-ish meal on the other side of the world in a lovely atmosphere without having to do any shopping or cooking? Absolutely worth $100.
Here’s a picture of us at dinner. I’m much happier than I look. And yes, sunglasses have become a permanent fixture to the top of my head–even at night in a really fancy restaurant.
One tip from this seasoned, globe-trotting, almost-30-year-old mama: the secret to pleasant meals out in fancy restaurants with a baby, a toddler, and two more boys is to always order wine. Oh, did you think I was going to say to pack snacks for the babies in case they turn up their noses at the braised whitefish? Or to always bring your own booster seat and sippy cup? Or to make sure the kids practice good table manners at home so they don’t embarrass you in public? Or to get an early start so the restaurant isn’t as crowded and the wait isn’t as long and the kids aren’t as fussy? Oh no, my friends. I said, order wine.