Celebrating Thanksgiving in Indonesia with food, friends


“We invited teachers, friends and neighbors over to our house for a Thanksgiving dinner of green beans, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin bread. Seth brought home our entire Thanksgiving dinner’s worth of groceries on his motorbike, but we had to get a little creative with our ingredients. In the end, we managed to fit four chickens, 13 ears of corn, and an entire Dutch oven into our two backpacks. The extra helmet on his seat was just for style. Since there are no turkeys in Medan, we bought miniature chickens and baked them in a toaster oven. Our friends brought us other Indonesian foods to share. It was fun to blend traditional Thanksgiving foods with some Indonesian favorites. We all had way too much to eat!”
– Catherine Brist (and Seth Soderborg) | Medan, North Sumatra


“Thanksgiving at the Grimes house included a traditional meal of green beans, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and chicken sate served to four Indonesian friends. The local disdain for eating turkey turned out to be a blessing in disguise as peanut sauce will now be featured at all future Grimes family Thanksgiving celebrations. Alas, pumpkin pie was not in the cards, but the guests again bridged local and American custom with a combination of Reese’s candy and pineapple. There was much to be thankful for.”
– Matt Grimes | Martapura, South Kalimantan


“Adapting traditional American recipes to Indonesian ingredients and materials was truly a group effort. Luckily, my host family was excited to learn about American cooking, try traditional foods, and give me a little taste of home. Together we shopped traditional markets, cut up brown sugar and cinnamon for pies, sewed a chicken, and stayed up late making sure the pies came out just right. Everyone went back for seconds on the pumpkin pie and the meal was declared a success!”
– Anna DeVries | Pangkal Pinang, Bangka-Belitung

TGivingLW“Thanksgiving celebrations began when we learned the words ‘thankful’ and ‘grateful’ in class. With some colored paper, a few markers and my students’ creativity, we used this newly acquired vocab to remind ourselves what we are thankful for in our lives.  Mothers were among the most commonly thanked.  Because of the working holiday, our Thanksgiving dinner may have been a few days delayed (and lacking a turkey), but it did include green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing (made using our rice-cooker), cranberry sauce, and the most delicious (non-baked) pumpkin pie.  The closest ingredient (the green beans, or kacang panjang) was bought a few meters from our front door and the farthest (canned pumpkin) traveled nearly 10,000 miles to get to our table. Note the fork, just to make it extra American.”
– Lily Wiggins | Praya, East Lombok

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