Thanksgiving in Mexico

I had little patience for Mexico on Thanksgiving Day. It’s just a regular day here, so nobody really knows you’re whipping up a huge, crazy meal in your kitchen and that you need things now. My cheese vendor at Mercado San Juan forgot to create my cheese plate, which he swore he’d have at 11 a.m. The dude I ordered olive tapenade from likewise didn’t have it.

I wanted to kill everyone, but when I went to get a coffee, the coffee guy said, “Hola hola hola! Feliz Día de Thanksgiving guerita!” And the Oaxacan vendor gave me extra charales enchilados. “Señorita Lesley… verdad?”

The tortilla lady greeted me with a hug and a kiss on the cheek and said, “Qué milagro!”

When I went to grab a snack, the tlacoyo lady, who never talks EVER, asked me for the first time, “De dónde es usted?” And then when I said Estados Unidos, she said, “A poco es de allá?” I blabbered on and on, telling her about my fascination with Mexican food, how I fell in love with street food and fondas when I got here, how I really didn’t have any choice but to create a street food-markets-food tourism business, all the while she flipped the hot tlacoyos on the comal. I said goodbye and wished her a happy Thanksgiving. Even the chicken guys didn’t hoot at me while I walked by, I like to think because they recognize me by now. Or maybe it was the great spirit of Thanksgiving.

The meal came together, even without the cheese plate and the tapenade. Here was my Thanksgiving menu:

Panela cheese with epazote and chile cuaresmeño, purchased at Mercado San Juan
Fried charales enchilados, from the same stand

Main dishes*
Quelites salad made with quelite cenizo, parsley, chivito, tomato, organic sprouts and parmesan cheese, with a lemony vinaigrette
Crayton’s mom’s mushroom casserole (mushrooms, parsley and onion bathed in heavy cream and butter, and baked)
Pan-fried brussells sprouts with bacon
Pears poached in red wine (I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking)
Mexican chocolate cream pie — A riff on this Food & Wine recipe

*My friend Pam made the turkey, two types of stuffing, mashed potatoes and baked sweet potatoes.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Would love to hear of any dishes you plan to make again next year.

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11 Responses to “Thanksgiving in Mexico”
  1. Kristen Schnelle

    We made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pies for all my Mexican friends and neighbors. We had 17 people at our home gobbling down food just like Americans even though they’ve never tasted any of it before in their life. It was a wonderful time, and the best Thanskgiving ever!

    • Lesley

      Awesome! One of the coolest parts of our Thanksgiving was explaining the Thanksgiving story to our Mexican friends. The holiday takes on so much more significance when you’re away from home. What kind of pies did you make? Any recipes worth sharing?

  2. Adri {Food-N-Thought}

    Love this post. Oh how I wish I could visit a mercado with the “false promises” and all… and that menu looks like a good time!

    • Lesley

      Adri: Thanks. :-) The menu worked out well — the salad was my favorite. I haven’t had a salad taste so green and fresh-from-the-ground in a long time. Another point for quelites.

  3. Billie

    I too made the brussel sprouts with bacon, so easy and tasty. One of our traditions is an oyster casserole, which is something my grandmother came up with in the ’50’s, and still a hit.

    I can’t wait to go on one of your food tours in February when we visit, and continue to enjoy all of your posts! Muchas gracias.

    • Lesley

      Oooh… oyster casserole. What’s in that? Details please!

      • Billie

        Nothing fancy – butter a casserole dish, then starting with small oysters on the bottom of the dish, layer with cracker crumbs, butter, salt & pepper, repeating to the top of the dish. Pour heavy cream along with some of the oyster nectar to barely cover, and bake for one hour. I’ve tried bread crumbs with no success, so stick with the cracker crumbs. Do they have Saltines in Mexico???:)

        • Lesley

          Sounds fabulous! They do have saltines in Mexico — they’re called “saladitas” and they come in a blue package. I have survived on them during my many bouts with stomach illness.

  4. The Travelling Chopsticks

    Its been a while since I last stopped by – I love the new look! Really clean and fresh! We must have missed each other and San Juan, as I was there too, picking up some last minute food for our Thanks Giving! Ended up making a roast duck (first time for me) and it was a great success! I am now following you, so that I don’t miss out any more good Mexican tid-bits :)

    • Lesley

      Hola! Glad you like it. :-) I’ve never done roast duck before so I’ll have to get your recipe!

  5. Life and Larder Blogger

    After flying out of Mexico City in the afternoon, we arrived in San Francisco airport on Thanksgiving. It took us a while to realise what was going on. The place was like a ghost town/airport: Almost all the stores were closed – Even the bar in our terminal was closed! The Mexican place was closed too, but after a couple of weeks eating real Mexican food, that was the last thing we felt like anyway… Luckily the sushi restaurant was open and they were doing a roaring trade.

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