This is the sixth Thanksgiving I’ve spent outside of the U.S. Two of those were at sea. In ’91 I was coming across the Atlantic on the Jolie Aire and I believe we dined on freshly-caught dolphin. The next one was in ’92. I was on my beloved Nancy Dawson in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I was nearly broke at the time and I think my Thanksgiving repast that year was refried beans and salsa on tortillas crisped on the two-burner stove.
There were two Thanksgiving dinners while I was over in Antibes. One was at Chez Charlie’s Pub and the other at Le Rouf. They were both good. Turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. Close, but not like in the States, but the effort that the cooks at those two places put in to trying to give the gringo expats a taste of home for the day was appreciated.
Here in Panama it’s just another day. Sort of like how Mardi Gras is in the States except for that thin strip of land between Mobile, Alabama (where the first Mardi Gras was celebrated) and east Texas. In the El Rey supermarket in David where I do most of my grocery shopping frozen Butterball turkeys suddenly appeared in the frozen food section and they were pricey. Around $30/$40 for a 12 pound bird. With quite a large gringo expat community in this area several of the restaurants put on a, sort of, traditional feed bag. Last year I went to the Ciudad de David Hotel and had a fine buffet meal with a couple of beers and an espresso afterwards and with the Pensionado discount it ran about $12 plus tip. Plus I got to watch the New England Patriots football game. Looking at what’s being offered around the area this year it seems the cost of a turkey dinner is anywhere from $15 to $20, topping out at $45 at a very upscale place in Boquete.
Of course the temptation to do go somewhere this year is strong. I’m tempted to try the Cuatro Restaurant which is right on the bus route I take into David. They’re offering grilled turkey breast over sweet potato hash (whatever that is) with cranberry sauce or, braised turkey leg meat over bacon and blue cheese mashed potatoes with cornbread. $15. Dessert will set one back another five bucks.
Okay, so I know you’re all anxious to find out what I did this Thanksgiving. Well, while most Americans would like to believe it’s carved in stone somewhere that we down commercial-sized portions of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and that disgusting sting bean casserole today, it’s NOT. Like the name of the day says it’s a day to give thanks for what we have. I’m thankful to be here in Panama and only have to be subjected to the election nonsense that’s pervading the airwaves of America. Gee-ZUS! There you have Ron Paul, 2012’s answer to R0ss Perot. Then there’s the guy named after a slimy amphibian that lives under rocks touting “family values.” Which family, Newt? Your first, second or third? Rick Perry? You know there have to be claw marks on the inside of Molly Ivans’s casket as she tries to get out for just one more go-’round with Governor Good Hair.Plain vanilla Mittens Romney. They guy who crafted the health plan in Massachusetts that “Obama Care” is patterned after and now he has to eat crow and denounce his own plan. One question about the Mormon magic underwear, Mitt…boxers or briefs? And I don’t even want to get started on the three stooges of insanity: Bachmann, Santorum and Cain.
I’m thankful to be living in a beautiful country surrounded by friendly people and being able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle on what little money I have.
I’m thankful that I woke up to another day.
Though I’ve moved all my stuff into the house in Boquerón there are still things I need so I decided, instead of going to have a semi-traditional Thanksgiving dinner I’d go do some necessary shopping and stop at a place along the way that a lot of people around here have been writing about lately. I stopped off at the Chirqui Mall and had a delicious Philly cheese steak sandwich. Most places here fall flat on their faces trying to cook gringo food. Don’t EVER order a hamburger. They don’t have a clue. But the cheese steak sandwich was spot on delicious. Grilled onions, heavenly melted cheese all done in a very nice Italian-bread roll. Yummy to say the least. Maybe next year I’ll go have turkey and the fixings but this year I was thankful for what I had.