‘You know you’re an expat when you win two cans of pumpkin and you are excited!’, a friend posted yesterday on Facebook.
And you know what? She is exactly right. Her post triggered an avalanche of responses from kindred spirits. Comments flew back and forth about the paucity of pumpkin, what we’d make with it, where to score a can. Pumpkin junkies.
That’s what we were, pure and simple. Pumpkin junkies. Sounds pathetic, I know.
It’s really an American thing, honed after years and years of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. Sure, some people like pumpkin bread or roasted pumpkin or pumpkin soup.
I remember proudly making pumpkin muffins for Husband when we celebrated our first Thanksgiving together. Now the fact that they were so heavy that he dubbed them ‘pumpkin sinkers’ (a supposedly humorous reference to the little weights used on fishing lines) is beside the point.
The point is… um, uh, yes. The point is that once November rolls around, the cravings for favorite Thanksgiving foods start. As an expat, depending on where you live, some of those favorites are not exactly easy to find. For instance, when we went back to the US for a visit this summer I made sure to bring back pumpkin pie spice and poultry seasoning.
Now I could find the various ingredient spices here in the Netherlands and mix up my own. But why would I? Aside from the mess and the hassle, I’m not sure I could get the measurements right to accurately replicate the taste of either. That’s why they SELL poultry seasoning and pumpkin pie spice in the first place. Just doing my part to stimulate the economy, I’m just saying…
Last year being our first Thanksgiving here, I went to my local grocery store (Albert Heijn) looking for canned pumpkin. Albert Heijn stores are all over the country, it seems like there’s one on almost every corner here in Den Haag. But no canned pumpkin to be had.
I checked elsewhere, still none. In our house, if there isn’t turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, it isn’t Thanksgiving.
What to do, what to do. And then the light bulb went on. I could check at Thomas Green’s.
Now for anyone who isn’t familiar with Thomas Green’s, it is a godsend to expats. It started as a few shops in a small number of countries providing favorite UK products to British expats. It has since expanded not only in store numbers and locations, but also in inventory to include favorite American, Canadian and other expat products.
You can even order online if you are so inclined. I’m not, but I know people who are. Prices may be high, often double or more what you’re used to paying, but some things are sooo worth it.
We are fortunate that we have a Thomas Green’s relatively closeby. So I ducked into the store for a quick peek. And lo and behold, there on the shelf were three cans of pumpkin.
Cue bright lights and and the sound of an angelic chorus. I’m talking Handel’s Messiah (all together now: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, …).
My family could have their pumpkin pie. HUGE relief. Thanksgiving was saved.
I was so grateful that I then did a very un-American thing. Rather than scoop up all three cans to ensure that we’d have pumpkin pie for Christmas as well (I told you my family likes pumpkin pie), I only bought one can.
Just. One. Can.
After all, I wasn’t going to be the only one on the quest for the holy grail, was I?