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Travels in Russia

KLM Rocks Across Europe!
Santa Claus in Moscow
Television Is a Time Suck
The Reality of Irrelevance
Salute Mayor Luzhkov
Impeachment Happens
I Am Not The Only One...
I'm Back! Did Ya Miss Me?
Chechnya Burning
Weddings in Winter
The Jews Are Here!
Gailyn Goes to Town
Is There a Central Bank?
Santa Barbara is Real
Den' Rozhdeniya = Birthdays
Those Crazy Expats
It's Just a Few Drops of Vodka...
Elections Are Always Rigged
The Blind Leading the Blind
Good Russian Grooms
You Say 'Boris Berezovskiy' Fast
Too Cold to Care!
Russian Oil Towns
Sneaky Siberian Tigers
Which Way is St Peterburg?
Where am I again? Oh, yeah...
I Love Me Some Vodka
It's a Gosorg Halloween
Hunger Comes to Us All
Why Don't They Just Learn English?!
Post-Crisis, Life Goes On
Is Yeltsin 'The Man'?
Murmansk - Brrrr!
Taganka Hides Her Secrects
These are Communists
It's a Power Vaccum
The Commies are Back
Propaganda is Good for You
You Better Buy Russian!
Sex Ed Soviet Style
Party over, oops outta time!
Russian Healthcare in Moscow
What Russian Financial Crisis?
YE Prices in Russia
The Hungry Duck
Russian Caviar Mafia
Magical Mushrooms
Shhhh! We're Bear Hunting
Soviet Street Scams
Bez Dollarov
A Koshka Konspiracy
On The Dacha
The Banking Implosion
Surviving Army Life
Shashleek is Steak on Steroids
Dacha Thinking
Beach Weekend
Dos Vedanya
Hello from Vladivostok
Equality Means Only She Works
Jogging is an Extreme Sport
Russians Have Reunions Too
My Folks in Massive Moscow
Better than Fireworks
Miners Are Real Men
The Russian Mafia is the Roof
No One Smiles in the CIS
One Year Anniversary
Russian Brides Rock
Laura is My St Pete Connection
Change is in the Wind
Chuck Norris' Beverly Hills Casino
The Expat Woman's Predicament
Street Food is Yummy!
Spring Flowers Make June Leavers
The Provinces Are Provincial
Ever Take an Elektrichka?
The English Invasion
Nuttin Like New Money
Rules Are Made to Break
All Black is Russian Fashion
Easter Memories = Easter Dinner
Politics, Russian Style
Theresa Tries to Russify
I Go to Gay Clubs Worldwide
I Hide on Women's Day
New & Shiny: Nizhny Novgorod
Psst! Wanna job in Moscow?
Fili Park Has All the Bootlegs
Web Page Reactions
Take a Break at Dom Odaha
Expat Living in Moscow is Swank
Why Are You Remonting?
They Look Like Telephones...
In Need of a Decent Hairstylist
Smashing Bottles in Red Square


Russia, November 25, 1998

Nick's Thanksgiving in Russia

Turkey time in the CIS!

25 November, 1998


By Nick

I told you that I would let you know how my Thanksgiving Dinner went. All in all it went well. I became a little mad at one point but that pasted quickly.

As you will recall, I invited 10 Russians over to celebrate Thanksgiving ("TG"). The party was for my benefit since I did not want to be alone and to show my closest friends how we celebrate TG. I spent three or four days shopping for food and cooking. I of course took off all of Thursday to cook and a young girl helped me in the preparation. (Yes "young girl" is the politically correct way to refer to women who are 18-35 years old.) Her name is Alyona and we spent quite a bit of time arguing about various matters. She wanted to invite four friends of one of my friends. Neither one of us knew these people very well but they were best friends of one of my friends. Alyona thought that he would have a better time if his friends were there. I countered that this was a full sit down dinner party and that 10 people was enough for my small house. (The discussion was finally settled when I said, "It is my party and I think ten is enough." I know that is not the best way to settle things but believe me, you have never argued with a Russian. Someone has to give in or give up; I basically just "trumped" the argument.)

Well with that decided, we planned the appetizers, meal and drinks. Every thing was going fine until 8:00 p.m. when the party was supposed to start. No one showed up at 8:00. I had a party once before and everyone showed up at exactly the right time. I thought this was a Russian tradition, kind of like the American military. I was wrong. Everyone showed up on time last time because they thought it was a business function. I should have told everyone that TG is also a business function, then they would have been here on time.

Well as I said the party started at 8:00. About 7:30 a girl who I had invited and who had been sick all week called and told me she could not make it. She had been calling all week and giving me graphic updates of her sickness so I had assumed she would not be present. (As it turned out, after several phone calls by myself and her friends, we were able to talk her into coming over and she arrived around 11:00 and stayed until 5:30 a.m.)

At 8:15 one girl called and asked if anyone was there yet. I said six people were here and that we were just waiting on her and another couple. (Okay, so this was a necessary little white lie to get the party started.) At 8:30 the first guests showed up. I think everyone arrived by 9:00 which is not bad for an American party. The one time I got mad was at 9:30 a couple called and said they were sick and could not come. They called me one and a half hours after the party started. I had planned on them coming and was mad that they thought it was okay to call this late. As I said, I quickly got over this because everyone was having fun and it is hard to be mad when you are surrounded by good friends.

Well after the first guests arrived, and with the arrival of every guest, Alyona proudly announced, "It was Nicholas' idea for you to eat with your hands. Nicholas, please explain to our guests how they should eat the appetizers". Since this was an American party I had wanted to do some American things. One of these was I had a bunch of lovely appetizers. Each one thought out especially for this party and the ability to eat them with your hands. I had a tray of meat, cheese, fish and bread. A bowl of dip with various vegetables, and several bowls of pickles, olives, peppers and nuts. I had napkins for everyone to use. Granted, I should have bought small plates but I thought the napkins were sufficient. What I knew and the reason why Alyona was having fun with me is that Russians consider it very rude to eat with your hands or to drink from a bottle. (and yes I gave all the men bottles of beer with no glasses.) So it took some explaining and some demonstrating to get them to eat with their hands. I do not know for sure why they started eating with their hands, i.e., whether it was starvation, drunkenness or just a willingness to try something new, but they ate all the appetizers and not a single fork was used.

Then the transition form appetizers to dinner went a little rough. I have a small kitchen, small stove and small refrigerator. Getting everything ready at one time was hard but we finally managed. I could not find a turkey in Moscow so we bought four chickens, pre-cooked, and just warmed them up. As I started cooking things and putting them on the table I realized just how much food we had. Alyona and I had argued over how much to make. We had both American dishes, such as potato salad, and Russian dishes, such as cheese and garlic. With everything combined it was way too much food. I had thought this was the case and we had argued about this. I had told Alyona that we were not feeding an army but she insisted and I relented. (After playing the above trump card, I did not want to push things too far. After all I need her to help cook.)

Well we had eight people around a table and we could barely fit everything onto the table. Before we started eating I said a small grace and explained what TG was for. I stopped short of mentioning that the Americans went on to treat the Indians, who helped them so much those first few years, so badly in the future. I even had a small tear when I thought about all of you. (Really I was upset that you were eating Turkey and gravy and all I had was chicken and vodka.)

Well the meal went well and we had many toasts and jokes, all in Russian, during and after the meal. (For those of you who think I do not understand Russian - you are somewhat correct- but the whole night the main language was Russian and I got along quite well. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!) The first guests left around 12:00 and the last around 5:30. We opened a bottle of vodka and all of the women and one man declined to help drink. There is a tradition in Russia that if you open a bottle of Vodka then you have to drink it that same day. The vodka was very tasty and I and one other guy were able to finish it quite easily, even after all the other alcohol.

The night was a success and I have had a few smaller dinner parties since that one. Since I am now unemployed it is easier for me to do this and it is a lot more fun than eating alone.

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