Thanksgiving in Rome 2012

Market at Campo de’ Fiori

You may remember from my post last year that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. On Thanksgiving Americans celebrate our “founding” by the pilgrims, which ignores the centuries-long habitation of North America by the Indians, but never mind. I love Thanksgiving for celebrating family and friends and for preparing and eating a delicious, traditional feast.

Last year we didn’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner because our kitchen is teeny, and my friend Kate McKenna was in town and we were leaving the next day for Sicily. This year we had mushroom risotto made from dried mushrooms that a friend brought us from Poland (thank you, Wiola), and it was sensational—earthy and fragrant and tasting of fall. But it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. So on Thanksgiving night, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday.

Our centerpiece – a camellia blossom from our building’s garden (but don’t tell, please!)

Rome was expecting another round of protests Saturday, and we hoped to miss the protesters by leaving our apartment about 9:30 to go grocery shopping. Michael bought two bags of fresh cranberries at Campo de’ Fiori the previous weekend, and I had found most of the ingredients for pumpkin pie, including canned pumpkin (not Libby’s but a can labeled “American pumpkin”). Our Saturday shopping list included a turkey and ingredients for stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.

We planned to stop for breakfast at Caffè Farnese, but to our surprise, Piazza Farnese was packed with hundreds of protesters waving red flags and waiting patiently to hear speeches and march to the Ministry of Education. Undaunted, we slipped down a side street and had cappuccini and cornetti on Campo de’ Fiori.

After breakfast we stopped at a butcher shop to buy the turkey and were so excited to find one! Unfortunately it was too big for our oven, so the butcher cut it up and wrapped the breast for us. We then bought almost everything else on our list and headed home around 11 a.m. with four HEAVY bags, feeling smug that we hadn’t run into any more protesters. As we slipped around the last building before our apartment, what should we see but a small phalanx of protesters just passing our home. Fortunately, they were peaceful.

We unloaded our bags, and I began making the pumpkin pie. We had to improvise because we couldn’t find evaporated milk, ground cloves, or ground ginger. We substituted a combination of milk and cream; we ground some whole cloves, permanently pitting our coffee and spice grinder; and after doing some research on the web, we squeezed ginger juice from fresh ginger and used that. That pie was heaven! I LOVE pumpkin pie, and we have only one small piece left, darn! I guess I’ll have to find another can of American pumpkin.

Cranberry Port Conserve

During the pie making, the protesters were out in force, and police helicopters flew down the Tevere and right over our house, making quite a racket! Around 2:30 a group of protesters, accompanied by a police escort, marched down our street and over the Ponte Sisto bridge. I was glad when that was over! At least the protest on Saturday was not violent, unlike the protest the week before.

Michael made two kinds of cranberry sauce: Cranberry Port Conserve, which we have made every year since it was published in Gourmet in 1996 and which is the most fabulous adult cranberry sauce ever (and don’t adults deserve a fabulous cranberry sauce?), and Cranberry, Tangerine, and Crystalized Ginger Relish, another show-stopper. I call the latter Tim’s Cranberry Sauce, because our niece Donna and her husband, Tim, and their family spent Thanksgiving with us in 2007, and although Tim proclaimed that he hated cranberry sauce, he loved this one so much that he begged me for the recipe the next year and made it himself!


Michael then made the stuffing from bread, celery, chestnuts, sausages, and herbs. I don’t know what else was in that stuffing, but it was so good. He then prepared the turkey breast with a rub of garlic, dry mustard, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, fresh thyme, olive oil, lemon juice, and white wine. He used the rub under and on top of the skin. Excellent!

We also had mashed potatoes and a yummy mushroom gravy, which Michael made with the cutest mushrooms—funghi pioppini—onions, sage, and sherry.

We started cooking at 11:30 or so and began eating at 7:30 or so. As always with Thanksgiving, it took eight hours to cook and about 45 minutes to eat!

We couldn’t move after that delicious dinner, so we watched one of my all-time favorite movies, The Great Escape. The perfect celebration! I’m thankful!


Onion goggles are the best! They look ridiculous, but they work! Buy some for yourself. Buy some for your friends. Your friends will laugh, but then they will love you! No more tears!!!

Pioppini mushrooms – scrumptious!

Dinner is served!

This entry was posted in Italy food and restaurants, Life in Rome, Rome seasons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Thanksgiving in Rome 2012

  1. Nikki says:

    I LOVE the onion goggles!!! Where do you get them!!

    • skdyer7 says:

      The onion goggles are a thrilling invention, I agree. I suppose you can get them at any kitchen store. Alison gave them to Michael as a gag gift, and after we gave them a try, we promptly gave her some! They are the best!!!!!

  2. Meredith Prock says:

    I’m so glad you got to have your Thanksgiving dinner after all! Sounds like a wonderful feast came out of that tiny kitchen of yours!

  3. Larry Byer says:

    That had to be really fun. I well see some recipe on TV and Mary and I have fun getting the ingridents and putting it together. The onion googles are on are list for stocking stuffers.

  4. Sandi Shriver says:

    This is the only way I will see Italy, through your eyes. Please keep up the blog. Your pic make me feel like I am there.

  5. Suzie says:

    I had no idea that you were also a lover of The Great Escape! I LOVE that movie and have read a great deal about the “real guys.” My dvd of it contains great documentary clips along with it. I got the boys to watch it with me this year and they really enjoyed it too! Sounds like a perfect ending to a busy day. Your food descriptions made me want to do Thanksgiving all over again. Among other things, I made carrot casserole – a Rottler favorite!

    Much love to you and Michael! xoxo Suzie

    • skdyer7 says:

      Such a great movie! I sold movie tickets at the Egyptian Theater in my hometown when that movie came out. After the box office closed at night I watched the rest of the movie–every night for about a week. I never saw the first half hour or so until much later in my life! So silly! My DVD has NOTHING extra on it–I’m so glad to know that one does!!!

      We LOVE the Rottler carrot casserole–makes ME want to do Thanksgiving all over again!

      Love to all!

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