Thanksgiving Uganda Style


The leaves might not be turning and the ski is an equatorial blue rather than the crisp blue of a Canadian autumn but we still decided to honour and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. I love this holiday; the fact that everyone celebrates it despite religion, race, creed or wherever you sit on the poverty/wealth scale.  Gathering loved ones together and giving pause to say thank you is a worthwhile tradition that is distinctly North American. With its connection to the harvest, the Canadian date is 6 weeks ahead of the US festivities since we are all so cold up there and the ground is turning to ice under our feet as we pluck the Turkeys.  It marks the fall and comes in a comfortable point between Labour Day and its celebratory sadness of the last of summer days and the roar and giggle of Halloween eve where children wrapped in coats that cover their cleverly chosen costumes chase the promise of pillow cases filled with candy.

Of course traditions being what they are a Turkey is expected on one’s Thanksgiving table. Last year there was no Thanksgiving celebration given that the shoe box was too small to accommodate our little foursome plus friends and so there were no worried glances and thoughts over where to find a Turkey in Kampala. I told Handsome Husband that this was one for his capable hands with me being a vegetarian and all.

First stop, the butcher favoured by French expats and other picky meat eaters. It turns out they do not stock Turkey until November (for the Americans) through December (for Christmas.) This is when he came up with one of his, shall we say, special ideas. With a look of boyish glee and over ripe enthusiasm he presented the idea to me one afternoon as we drove home from one of my rare hair appointments.

“So, I have a plan!”

“Really? What is it?” I have to admit I had thoughts of a great date night, maybe dinner, drinks, and a chance to show off my new coiffed hair. I had no idea what was coming.

“Since it is impossible to buy a dead turkey we are going to buy a live one, let it walk around the garden for a few days and then on Sunday morning we’ll kill it! Steve (our gardener and guard) will help!’


“Princess is so excited. She says she is going to give it a name.”

Silence. Shocked, stunned silence.

“So what do you think?” he asked, a little nervously, this time, obviously sort of worried by my silence and the aghast look of shock on my face.

“I think that is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. So let me get this right. We are going to have PET turkey for a few days, name her, ( how does Gertrude sound?) and then come Sunday we are going to all sit down and carve and eat her? Really? Have you forgotten that you have one vegetarian wife and one vegetarian daughter?”

“Well that is the way it is done in Africa. That is real life! I thought it would be a great lesson for the girls.”

Maybe not.

Taking his beautiful idea away with him and hiding it well beneath his pride, Handsome Husband came up with plan 2. We were going to have Roast Chicken for Thanksgiving. When one of our invited Canadian guests got wind of that idea she promptly came up with a revelation. She has a Turkey guy! She offered to call him and sort us out a turkey once and for all. A turkey with no name.

The turkey was delivered in 4 bags. Heavy bags dripping with blood. How can one turkey come in 4 bags? What went wrong? Alarmed phone calls were dispatched; the Turkey Guy was called and promptly reprimanded and within two hours a new turkey in one bag was sitting in our fridge.

Handsome Husband attended to this Turkey like a new born baby, checking on it, basting it and eventually dousing it with Bourbon. Five hours later the turkey came out, crispy and golden in all its glory. Being a vegetarian I cannot attest to its succulent delights but I hear that it was very good. I am just so grateful that I never got to know her.

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Filed under Family Stuff, I love food

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