My Italian Thanksgiving Experience

December 8, 2013
italian thanksgiving


foreign-correspondent badge final After two months of living in Milan, I am starting to have less of those ‘what the heck am I doing here?!?’ moments and more of the ‘sweet baby Jesus, this is awesome!’ moments. I would by no means say that it has been a seamless transition, and I may well find that there are many transitional periods to come. As with any move, there have been many bumps along the way both linguistically (real life Italian is NOT what they teach you at university) and physically  (the cobblestones and I do not get along here). I became aware of my current progression from Austinite to Milanesa when I attended a degustazione with my host dad/landlord for Thanksgiving.

My Italian Thanksgiving Experience

I would like to take a second just to point out that all is well with globalization here in Italy. As an American working abroad, I had the opportunity to attend an Italian degustazione in Milan, and also happened to find a bakery nearby that was making pumpkin pie! No joke–I found it, I bought it, and I ate it all. No regrets.

italian thanksgiving

Back to our degustazione. In a word, degustazione can be thought of as a ‘tasting’ or a ‘sampling.’ That evening was a degustazione of various Italian wines paired with typical Milanese dishes. For starters, we were treated to spumante metodo classico, followed by docetto d’alba and risotto alla parmigiana. Following this was a barbera superiore and a plate of brasato con polenta. In true Thanksgiving fashion, the food (and alcohol) continued coming with a panettone con le sue salse and a nice glass of moscato d’asti. It is safe to say that I was feeling pretty full by the end, just as on any Turkey Day back home.

An added bonus of having attended this degustazione was the fact that I met so many interesting Italians who also reside here in Milan. There was the proprietor of a local restaurant, a businessman, a judge, a lawyer, and so on and so forth, and then me, the token American living abroad in search of adventure and new experiences. All in all, it was a great evening and I enjoyed it all the more so given the fact that it was Thanksgiving back in the United States. As much as I would have loved to gorge on green bean casserole and sweet potatoes, I am more than happy to put them off for a year if it means that I get to converse in Italian with the locals at a tiny restaurant while we sip wine and discuss the latest happenings in Milan.

The funny part to this whole story is that I almost didn’t go. I was tired, I had been working all day, I missed my family and my friends, and I didn’t think my Italian was good enough to have a meaningful conversation with a five-year-old, much less a well-educated Italian adult. But I went anyway. I talked to whomever would talk to me, and I spoke only Italian–with my American accent. I made new friends, I tried new things, and I actually ended up joining the local wine tasters group so I now have somewhere to be every last Thursday of each month.

So my point is this: You are never going to know anything if you don’t at least try. It may go horribly wrong, you may embarrass yourself, or it may go perfectly right. It’s quite exhilarating to try new things so what the heck! Trade in the turkey for the parmesan risotto! Either way you’ll be getting a ‘taste’ of life!

My Italian Thanksgiving Experience

About L. Gabrielle Castagno

Gabrielle Castagno began traveling at the age of 16, and has been hooked ever since. Gabrielle has ventured to over 9 different countries, most recently residing in Milan, Italy where she was an ESL teacher. She now works with a refugee resettlement agency in Dallas, Texas and is involved with numerous human rights initiatives throughout the US. A dual Italian-American citizen, Gabrielle hopes to return to Italy soon, to work with refugees there.

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