Cooking-w-Florence Like a number of people from the US, Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holidy, since it is focused around being together with family and giving thanks, with little material focus, except for on food of course.

And at least according to the mythology of Thanksgiving, it was from the start a multicultural event, so while I could not be with my family, I was able to give thanks to some Burundians who have helped me find my feet here.  Though actually we had 9 Burundians, 1 Kenyan, 1 American living in Kenya, 1 Brit, and myself.

We had a hard time finding a turkey, so we went with chicken, which is a little easier since we don’t have an oven and most of the meal was cooked over charcoal, though I made use of an electric hot plate.  So fried chicken it was, with garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with thyme, honey glazed carrots with ginger, soda to drink, and for dessert a fruit salad with pineapple, mango, passion fruit, banana, and itunda (“tree tomato”).

I gave a small speech in which I explained Thanksgiving and thanked them from coming, and then in traditional Burundian fashion, one of the guests thanked me for the food and drinks and politely pointed out that if there were more drinks, they would be able to stay longer and further enjoy each others’ company.  I love this practice – it always makes Burundians, and then me, laugh – the tradition is that guests cannot ask for more food but they must ask for more beverages. 

So while I missed being back home with my family, I enjoyed the opportunity to share this time with others, and my secret hope is that it will inspire Burundians to revive their own tradition of harvest festivals from pre-colonial times.

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