November 2004


Thanksgiving in Jena

A couple of weeks ago I looked at the office calendar and noticed that a couple of Americans were going to be here over their Thanksgiving holiday, so I suggested that we have some kind of Thanksgiving Dinner. Initially I wanted to have it on Thursday, but because of the way the stars aligned, it was better to have it last night, Wednesday evening.

So last night ten of us, plus the vegetarian, trooped on down to Oskar’s, an “American” restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. Oskar’s has a definite “Oscars” theme about it-I suppose that means it is the best place in town to watch the Oscars each spring, or at least a place to enjoy pseudo Hollywood decor.

That said, Oskar’s was absolutely, positively, fantastic. It’s situated on the second floor (third in America) overlooking Jena’s Markt; which is especially beautiful this time of year because they have put up the Christmas tree, splendid in its lighting. We had a prime view of the tree from our table for 11.

Our meal started with traditional bread, and at Oskar’s each person is served a plain white dish with a pretty piece of butter-spread in the middle of it. Accompanying this butter is a Pringles Potato Chip, thus officially making it tacky American.

I loved it!

When I had first envisioned the meal, I had only wished that we would go out to a restaurant that served fowl of any kind, and that the particular type didn’t really matter: because, face it, we’re in Germany, and the Turkey dinner is hardly a tradition here.

Not content with my vision, K outdid herself! She called Oskar’s and warned them we were coming and asked if they could roast us a turkey-and they did! We had a fantastic turkey dinner! Immediately after clearing the plates, our waiter brought out the turkey, which weighed in at something like 10 kilos-22 US pounds for the conversion unable. To say that it looked just like a picture book roasted turkey would be an understatement. It was incredibly beautiful. I couldn’t have imagined a better, more perfect roasted turkey.

The chef pulled out the knife and fork and started carving the turkey. Surprisingly nobody wanted either the drumstick, and so after a brief struggle with the leg, he moved on and started cutting piece after piece of the breast off of the turkey. Everybody received a generous piece of juicy turkey, except the vegetarian. There were vegetables on the side: potatoes, onions, red cabbage, and more; all accompanied with the very traditional gravy.

Somehow, what I had mentally envisioned had been taken over by a master artist, and we were golden.

The best part was the complete and total lack of any disasters whatsoever: Nothing caught fire, the turkey didn’t meet the kitty litter (or if it did, we don’t want to know), and nobody argued with anybody. It was the absolute perfect example of the fairy tale Thanksgiving dinner.

Before I forget, I want to thank K for her outstanding effort putting last night together, as well as the incredibly fantastic staff at Oskar’s who roasted the turkey and put everything together. It was truly a memorable Thanksgiving for all the right reasons.

And for that, I give Thanks.

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