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Stuffing the Bird

Gregory Giagnocavo November, 2001 I learned something new yesterday. Again.

We had been on a scavenger hunt to find the things we need to put together a traditional USA Thanksgiving dinner. We'd pretty well found what we need and we'll make do, even though we didn't find brown sugar and a few other things.

This year cranberry sauce is available but we couldn't find it last year. Couldn't find pie filling, but I had bought some cans of pumpkin pie filling when I was in the States this summer. And since last year we can buy frozen turkeys at a new store, but four years ago we couldn't find them. Anita's sister sent $100 for Thanksgiving, so we're splurging a bit and trying not to feel guilty about it, although we almost thought of canceling it.

STUFFING? Huh? Yesterday I was in the one of the largest grocery stores asking the store attendant if they had any StoveTop Stuffing. Although Anita doesn't like prepared stuff like that, she thought that perhaps if they had it, she would mix it in with the stuffing she was going to prepare. The attendant was trying as hard to understand me as I was trying to explain what I wanted. I described stuffing in many different ways, and she took me to spiced party mix, then to spices, then to garlic bread and finally to the shelf with cranberry sauce in a can.

The cranberry sauce was called, in Spanish, 'filling for turkey". I told her, "Sorry, that's not it either. And matter of fact, that must be a bad translation because cranberry sauce isn't turkey filling!" She patiently listened to me explain how we normally use cranberry sauce "In the USA" .

Then she smiled and said, well "in Guatemala cranberry sauce IS turkey filling". At Christmas, when they cook a whole turkey, or sometimes chicken, they mix the cranberry sauce with vegetables, then where North Americans put bread filling, Guatemalans fill the insides of the bird with this vegetable/cranberry mix. When the bird is cooked, they remove the mix and serve it separately. She said it's 'muy rico' (delicious) and seemed surprised that I had never heard of that method. As we talked a bit, she just couldn't figure out why we would put pieces of spicy bread inside the turkey. She'd never heard of that! I'm getting my Cross-Culture PhD a conversation at at time!

So, once again, I learned something. Something tastey. We'll have to try that sometime.



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