If there is one holiday that renders every American expat homesick, it’s gotta be Thanksgiving. Unlike Christmas, Thanksgiving is nowhere near prominent here. Vietnamese don’t celebrate it. Other expats don’t celebrate it. And that leave Americans (and Canadians) longing for that authentic turkey dinner.
As an American, A belongs to this lost, homesick, and hungry group last Thanksgiving. We couldn’t find key ingredients to put this dinner together. I mean, where do you find whole turkeys in Hanoi? Where to find cranberries for cranberry sauce?
Then, there are group events, dinner parties, and Thanksgiving dinner night at restaurants. The price tag to join, however, is of course pretty hefty. Plus, who wants to hangout in a restaurant on a Thanksgiving night?
It was also getting close to our wedding (which is the Sunday after). Therefore, A went Thanksgiving-hungry for that year.
This year, it’s getting close to our anniversary and we plan to rectify the Thanksgiving crave. (Yes, we did realize that every year, our anniversary will fall right around Thanksgiving week. Did not plan it though!)
Now in Hanoi, we have settled down more, and had more time to explore different stores and markets here. We can at least share what we found to make homemade Thanksgiving dinner a lot less impossible:
1. Turkey: Metro Cash & Carry – http://www.metro.com.vn/
We found out this year that Metro carries whole turkey and turkey legs. I saw it for the first time in early November, so looks like it is imported just for the season. Get yours fast before it’s gone. Prices are not too bad either, I forgot to note the price last time, but we plan to swing by this weekend so I will update the post if possible.
The turkey are frozen so of course they are in the frozen section, looks for imported meat. It usually plays neighbors to racks of lambs and the elite Australian beef steak.
Small tip: if you are looking for a pan that is big enough to cook your turkey in, Metro has some metal roasting pans that can do the job, but quite expensive. If roasting turkey is a once-a-year deal for you, go ahead and move on to LotteMart instead for baking pan. They sell aluminium foil roasting pan with handles at VND 68,000 or nearly $3.50. Good enough for me!
2. Cranberry sauce – L’s place – http://lsplace.com.vn/
As usual this place carries things that others don’t even know about. Cranberry sauce is another item we were surprised to find. I am suspecting that this is also just ordered for the occasion. While finding fresh cranberries is still a mission impossible (and if possible, I imagine the price will rival gold rate!), I guess cranberry sauce from a bag will do as well. We found it near the canned food/canned soup aisle of L’s place near the Manor.
3. Pumpkin Pie – Kafe Village – http://thekafe.vn/
If you happen to have an oven, making a pie from scratch can be fun and not that hard. Saves you money too.
I also spotted pumpkin pie at my currently favorite bakery – Kafe Village. The little bakery/ coffee shop is affiliated with Kitchen Art, a baking supply store that offers everything from pizza stone to pasta maker, from Wilton food coloring to KitchenAid stand mixer. The bakery as expected, also supplies cake and pastries just like you would find in the US.
The bakery sells it by the slice at their store, so if you want to score a whole pie, I think it is best to call ahead to order. They also do apple pie if that’s more your thing. I only saw mini apple pies last time, so go ahead and order a big one as well if you’d like.
These are the three items that we found hardest to find. Other items like potatoes, green beans or corn is of course available at any supermarket. It is only A’s second Thanksgiving away from home though, so perhaps some of his cravings have not kicked in yet. Leave a comment and let me know if I miss anything else!
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