28.11.11

Thanksgiving in Uruguay


Calexico restaurant in Punta del Este
Putting together a Thanksgiving diner in Uruguay takes organization and planning. Turkeys can be found in Uruguay but are not readily available. So, the first thing to do is start scouting for a turkey. Then there are the cranberries. Thanksgiving organizers start petitioning their friends who are planning visits to the US months in advance to bring back cranberries (freeze dried or canned) in their luggage. And this is just the beginning of it!

However, (thankfully) there were those who made the effort and organized Thanksgiving feasts this year in Punta del Este, Piriapolis, and Montevideo.

Punta del Este Thanksgiving at Calexico restaurant 
Calexico restaurant is a new restaurant in Punta del Este. It serves an International cuisine that includes California fusion and Mexican food. Calexico held a special Thanksgiving dinner that attracted 64 diners. The Thanksgiving guests were mostly expats from the US, but the group also included several Uruguayans, as well as people from Brazil, Canada, Germany, and Russia.

The Calexico Thanksgiving dinner included turkey, barbecued chipotle tamarind chicken, homemade stuffing (one of the favorites), garlic mashed potatoes with gravy, mole poblano, bread rolls, chips and salsas, 3 different salads, grilled vegetables, and a special cranberry sauce mix (which was also a big hit). Dessert included homemade pumpkin pie, homemade apple pie, homemade pumpkin Philadelphia cream cheese cake, carrot cake, and coffee.

Calexico is located at Paso de la Cadena at the corner of Dunkerque, near Avenue Roosevelt, in Punta del Este  4249-1190

Piriapolis Lunch Group Thanksgiving 
The Piriapolis Lunch Group started casually with two women meeting for lunch to speak to each other in English. From those simple beginnings the lunch group has grown into an organized monthly gathering that attracts English speakers by the dozens. For the November gathering the Piriapolis lunch group held a Thanksgiving dinner at La Rotunda restaurant in Piriapolis. Forty-eight English speakers attended the dinner. Most of the guests were from the US with some guests from other countries, including a couple from Holland. Half a dozen of the Thanksgiving guests were first-timers to the Piriapolis Lunch Group.

The Piriapolis Lunch Group Thanksgiving dinner included turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, and a salad bar. Cranberries (Freeze dried cranberries had been brought in, which were reconstituted and made into a delectable sauce.) For dessert there was pumpkin pie that tasted great. There was also a band that provided soft background music for the event.

Jean Petley, the Piriapolis Lunch Group organizer, reports that Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday. She said thanksgiving is a family holiday, and the group of English speakers that met together for Thanksgiving in Piriapolis felt like a big family.

Images of the Piriapolis Lunch Group taken by Jim and Ruth Dotson. 

American Association of Uruguay Thanksgiving (in Montevideo) 
The American Association of Uruguay is a club for people from the US, spouses or children of people from the US, and Uruguayans who have lived a significant part of their lives in the US. This Thanksgiving was celebrated with a mid-day Thanksgiving dinner at the home of the US Embassy’s ChargĂ© d’Affaires. More than 40 people attended.


The Thanksgiving dinner was an informal event held in a large tent set up in the back yard. The host provided the turkeys and the mashed potatoes and gravy. Club members filled in the rest of the feast, potluck-style. There was dressing, homemade rolls, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, macaroni & cheese, green salads, deviled eggs, potato salad, and molded Jell-O salads, along with a plethora of desserts including pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies.

Every Thanksgiving, the Club takes the opportunity to elect its Executive Board for the coming year. This year Rosalinda Walker was re-elected as the Club president. There is also a brief report on the activities of the year; however, most of the time was spent enjoying the meal and the company!

Images of the American Association of Uruguay Thanksgiving group provided by Rosalinda Walker.

Montevideo Thanksgiving hosted by Doug Heller with Living in Montevideo 
Doug Heller held a Thanksgiving dinner also known as the “First Feast”, since it doubled as a housewarming party for his new place with a large yard, complete with a Uruguayan barbecue area, near the Montevideo Shopping mall. At the dinner there were 16 guests, which included a diverse gathering of people from the US (including a Rumanian American, and a Puerto Rican American couple), bilingual Uruguayans, a Canadian couple, a German-educated architect, and a retired French sea captain and his wife.

The dinner celebration combined elements of a traditional North American Thanksgiving dinner with a traditional Uruguayan barbecue. However, the timing of the event was all Uruguayan starting in the late evening and going until 2 am. The food included large baked chickens stuffed with sausage-sage dressing, barbecued Uruguayan Chorizo sausage, and more ‘asado of beef” than everyone could eat.  There were salads, cranberry sauce, and several desserts including homemade pumpkin pie (made completely from scratch), lemon pie, ice cream and cookies and sweets of all kinds.

Doug Heller operates the “Living in Montevideo.com” website and helps new arrivals with short term furnished apartment rentals and relocation services.  He also hosts the twice-a-month gathering of Expats and Uruguayans called the Montevideo Language Exchange every other Friday evening from 7:30 pm in Pocitos.  

Images from Doug Heller's Thanksgiving and First Feast taken by Catherine Bodeant.


Did you celebrate Thanksgiving in Uruguay this year? Your comments are always appreciated. 

2 comments:

Avotts in MS said...

That is so funny. I had just ask my hubby if our only truly North American US holiday was celebrated in Uruguay or other places. I wondered if it would be considered rude to our new home countries. I am glad to hear that there is freedom to celebrate. I fixed a small feast for us, but cried when I remembered a Thanksgiving when my first husband and I had no food and were literally starving. Yes right here in the good ol USA. This year I so wanted to find someone else to share our Thanksgiving with. We have so much to be thankful for.

Paradise Uruguay said...

Avotts in MS, Thanks you for your comment. Yes, it has impressed me how important it is for North Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving. I think it says a lot.