So when you’re a permanent Australian-slash-US citizen, on the opposite site of the globe from your Thanksgiving roots, and too buggered from unpacking moving boxes (from Melbourne) to cook the whole turkey and trimmings, how do you celebrate in Sydney? Well, you go to Meetup.com, find a bunch of other American expats in town who are equally lazy, and you have a picnic in Cremorne Point.
Which is exactly what we did, Sarah and I committing to bring two sides as our contribution in what would be a pot-luck smorgasbord of mystery offerings by strangers. Our first task was baking a batch of sweet Cajun corn bread, gleaned directly from Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen cookbook and my failsafe recipe for any occasion remotely hinting of an American influence. Another favourite is bourbon sweet potatoes, a dish that tastes far better than it sounds, but it being a full work day we were short of prep time, so I grabbed a quick-and-easy dish of caramelised corn with fresh mint from the New York Times. Rarely are dishes this good so easy to make.
We were running an hour late, as you do, when we got to Cremorne Point and looked for signs of life. As soon as we started walking towards the grass, a whole crew of bag-toting Americans were walking towards us. Were we too late? Nup. It turned out that two separate groups had formed, with one sitting down at the wrong part of the park. So we walked with the wanderers up some steps and saw a string of turkey posters attached to trees and followed the trail.
What eventuated was what appeared to be approximately 100 Americans sprawled cross-legged in a park. Alongside the gathering was a large picnic table teeming with dishes, from the requisite turkey to sweet potato pie, wild rice, macaroni and cheese and other things like broccoli and couscous that weren’t exactly classic Thanksgiving fare, but which hit the spot anyway. We sat on the ground with our piled-high plates, watched the skies darken around the Harbour and Opera House, and gave dirty looks to the minor birds inching ever brazenly towards our meals.
Not bad for an impromptu gathering. Sadly, though, I don’t get off work for Thanksgiving in Australia, and I was tired from a long day (and with another workday looming). So with the added impetus of flashes of lightning appearing behind the Sydney skyline, Sarah and I hopped onto the Vespa and raced home before the rains threatened. On this Thanksgiving, we were thankful for a good no-fuss meal, and for not getting soaked.