Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day in Morocco

Like halloween, Thanksgiving Day is not a Moroccan holiday and yet every year it is celebrated around the country among the expat community. The eating of turkey is traditional and turkey salesmen in Fez reported higher than normal sales over the last few days. Today The View from Fez went hunting for a Thanksgiving Day celebration and we did not have to go far before the smell of roast turkey and baked pumpkin pie wafted into our nostrils.

The turkey being carved
Delicious turkey stuffing

The celebration of Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday primarily in the United States and Canada. It is said to have originated with the early colonists giving thanks for a good harvest. Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. Because of the longstanding traditions of the holiday, the celebration often extends to the weekend that falls closest to the day it is celebrated. Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious traditions, but today is celebrated in a more secular manner.

The tradition of having pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving is an interesting one. Early Americans would not have had pies because they had no ovens in which to bake them. However, some suggest they stewed pumpkins or filled a hollowed out shell with milk, honey and spices, and then baked it in hot ashes.

One of the earliest pumpkin pie recipes that includes a crust comes from Francois Pierre la Varenne, the famous French chef and author of Le Vrai Cuisinier Francois (The True French Cook 1661). It was translated and published in England as The French Cook in 1653. It has a recipe for a pumpkin pie that included the pastry:
Tourte of pumpkin - Boile it with good milk, pass it through a straining pan very thick, and mix it with sugar, butter, a little salt and if you will, a few stamped almonds; let all be very thin. Put it in your sheet of paste; bake it. After it is baked, besprinkle it with sugar and serve - The French Cook
In the USA many pumpkin pies are made with store bought pastry crust and tinned pumpkin. We can report that the pumpkin pie we sampled in Fez was much more the genuine article; real pumpkin and homemade pastry - delicious.


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