“Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shat out through wholesome American guts.”
So goes the first line of William Burroughs' famous 'Thanksgiving Prayer', with a sentiment that would doubtless completely fail to shock the scatalogically inured Catalans: “Yes, people eat turkeys and shit them out. So what?”
Its end results aside, Thanksgiving dinner is the big date for next Thursday. Ever since the original 1621 feast shared between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians, it has meant a giant annual blow-out for Americans, wherever they may live.
If you want to eat out in Barcelona for the special day, your options are limited to say the least.
The only restaurant I can find that actually does a Thanksgiving menu is [shudder] the Hard Rock Café (Plaça de Catalunya 21, 93 270 23 05, www.hardrock.com) where the food is surprisingly edible if you don't mind bellowing over high volume Van Halen while whoever you are talking to stares over your shoulder at the nearest video screen. Their special Thanksgiving menu is available all-day long: Caesar salad, turkey with stuffing and pumpkin pie (€25.45); kids who don't want to eat actual turkey are catered for with a turkey burger and pumpkin pie (€13.95).
If that doesn't sound like your thing, you could try contacting the American Society who are holding their annual Thanksgiving buffet at the Hotel Arts on the 26th at 8.30pm for members and non-members alike. Note that advance registration and payment are required (www.amersoc.com).
Given the dearth of restaurant options, it's not surprising that most Americans in Barcelona opt to cook the turkey themselves. Madrid-based company Taste of America (www.tasteofamerica.com) can mail you anything from turkey basters to cans of cranberry sauce and pie filling. However, if you don't mind cooking from scratch, there is everything you need right here in the market stalls, especially if you are willing to incorporate local ingredients into your meal.
For a Spanish twist to your potatoes: if roasting, sprinkle a large pinch of ground-up saffron into a few tablespoons of melted duck or goose fat and spoon over potatoes before roasting; if you are going for mashed potatoes, add a head of soft and squishy roasted garlic into the mash for a fuller flavour.
Moniatos or boniatos (sweet potatoes) are also in season and if you're making pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie, you're in the right place as there is a huge variety of locally grown autumn gourds in the markets right now. The most reliably non-stringy and non-watery ones for cooking are the rabaquets (beige in colour, lightly ribbed and the shape of a giant pear) and the potimarrons (orange mini Jack O'Lanterns).
Cranberries (arańdano rojo in Castilian, nabiu vermell in Catalan) are harder to hunt down—they are available in the Boqueria's more exotic fruit stalls although they will probably end up costing you about as much as the turkey. For economy's sake you can sneak some raisins into the sauce to make the cranberries go further.
As for the big bird itself, be aware that turkeys in Spain are generally a lot smaller than their American counterparts but, on the other hand, so are the ovens. In the unlikely event that you can actually find a 20lb (9-kilo) gobbler, you'll need to check beforehand that it can fit on your oven shelf. Whatever its size you may need to pre-order your turkey around three days in advance from your local poultry shop or stall but they will be more than happy to remove the giblets etc. for you to make the gravy with later.