In which Charlotte and I are invited to Thanksgiving Dinner

On Saturday, we took an early train to Bern for a cheese festival. We ate some cheese (read: a lot of cheese); we also ate some local caramels (read: a lot of caramels); we also, also ate some macarons (read: some, not a lot, of macarons). I hope I used the semicolon correctly. Aside from ingestion and digestion, we went to Bärengraben to see the bears. (Bärengraben is a park–more like a miniature zoo–next to the river Aar that houses bears. It is casually nestled into the middle of the city!) Unfortunately, the bears were nowhere to be found. Overall, it was a run-of-the-mill tourist visit to another European city. In my books, that means,

int visitEuropeanCity (int iceCream, int cobblestonedStreets, int vibrantOutdoorMrkts, int statelyChurches, int cozyCafes) {
int result;
result = 3*IceCream + cobblestonedStreets + vibrantOutdoorMrkts +     statelyChurches + cozyCafes;
return result;

where “result” is an integer equivalent to some mix of happiness and stomach aches. So I’ll leave my review of Bern at that and skip over to the good stuff, for which this post is titled: Thanksgiving Dinner.

Charlotte and I fought in a battle against Fate this past weekend–a battle that began at 5:30 PM. For 3 hours, we fought tirelessly and valiantly, but ultimately we became victims. As with all battles, it began well before the day of the fight. Well, really, it began about a week ago. So let’s go back in time, to an arbitrary week day afternoon, sometime last week.


Imagine falling into this spiral as you say the onomatopoeia out loud, thus traveling into the past.

In which we are tempted by Fate, also known as, The Beginning

It was a dark and stormy night typical afternoon, and I was trapped on the top floor of a haunted mansion building on campus. I meet a girl who works on the floor below me, as she has been borrowing some equipment in our lab. She invites me to a joint Canadian-American Thanksgiving dinner. The Thanksgiving Dinner organizers have ordered a “real turkey” and the dinner is to take place on October 25th (in between the Canadian and American Thanksgiving dates) at 7 pm. I happily agree and subsequently invite Charlotte. We are going to have a “real” Thanksgiving dinner!

…Little did we know, Fate had other plans for us…

In which we acquire raw materials

Charlotte and I calculate what we think will be enough time to buy groceries and cook lemon pepper green beans and banana chocolate chip bars upon our return from Bern.

So at 5:30, we’re standing in the produce section of Coop, when Charlotte asks me how much green beans we need to buy. Hmm, the recipe calls for 1 pound of green beans.

“2.2 kilograms,” I reply confidently.
10 seconds later
“2.2?” Charlotte asks, with a look of extreme doubt etched onto her raised eyebrows.
“You know, 2.2 is FOUR bags of these green beans,” Charlotte continues, as she holds up two 0.5 kg bags of green beans, one in each hand.
“Well, I guess we could half the recipe,” I reply.

In which we realize our first mistake

We make it out of the grocery store and into the kitchen at 6:20. I realize that we don’t have the address of the Thanksgiving dinner party…mistake number 1: not asking for all the relevant information for a dinner invitation. So I call, text, and email the hostess. With the dinner party starting in 40 minutes, two recipes to cook, and no address, Charlotte and I commence.

Fate: 1, C&K: 0

In which we realize our second mistake

Sitting at the kitchen table, we begin to peel off the ends of the green beans. We peel and peel and peel. The pile is endless.

“Wow, this is a lot of green beans,” I comment.
“Yeah, imagine if we bought 2.2 kg. That would have been twice this amount,” Charlotte replies.
“Wait. Charlotte. The recipe calls for a pound of greenbeans. One pound is 2.2 kilograms, right? Right?”

“Uhh, Kristie, it’s the other way around. 1 kilogram is 2.2 pounds!”

Fate: 2, C&K: 0

#CookingConversions #AmericansInEurope

In which we attempt to find kitchen utensils

After opening every kitchen cabinet, we find a pot and start boiling water. Charlotte realizes that I really haven’t used the kitchen in my two months here aside from acquiring a spoon to eat yogurt and a knife to spread jam and peanut butter on toast. Sorting through the utensil drawer, I fail to locate any cutting knifes, but manage to locate the world’s smallest cleaver. As my only other option is to use a butter knife, I choose the world’s smallest cleaver to slice a lemon, which we need for the green bean recipe. Charlotte manages to whisk all of the banana chocolate chip bar ingredients together in the time it takes me to slice and squeeze a lemon.

Fate: 2, C&K: 1 (really, that 1 point is Charlotte’s)

In which I make a mess

We blanch the green beans and prepare to add the lemon-pepper juice to the green beans. As I pull pepper out of the spice drawer, another spice jar decides to fall out of the drawer. (Really, I’m just clumsy and I knocked it out of the drawer.) Thankfully, the glass jar is still in one piece. The only problem is that spices are everywhere except for where they need to be, which is in the jar.

“Oh it’s ok, I’ll just buy some thyme tomorrow,” I say.

Then I realize I didn’t spill thyme, but rather, cumin. While Charlotte whips up the buttered almonds for the lemon pepper green beans, I go in search of a broom to sweep up the cumin.

Fate: 3, C&K: 1

In which we receive the address of our destination

Our hostess replies with the address of the Thanksgiving dinner party. We are going to go to dinner!  Charlotte and I are tired after a day of being tourists in Bern and cooking. We are also running a 10K the following morning (aka today). But we continue to push ourselves: YES it would have been easy to back out, but NO we did NOT back out. YES we made food for Thanksgiving dinner and YES we are going to make it to the dinner party! So off we go. It’s a 30 minute bus ride, with one bus transfer, but we reach the first bus stop RIGHT as the bus pulls up to the stop. Phew. We hop on the bus, very much proud of ourselves.

“I like riding the bus. It’s like getting a grand tour of Lausanne,” Charlotte tells me.

We look out the window and continue to comment on how proud we are for committing to the Thanksgiving dinner, making food, and pushing ourselves to meet new people despite how tired we are. After quite some time, I hear an announcement for the next stop:

“Le prochain arrêt: Ours. Connection avec le m2.”

Hmm, that’s funny. I live at Ours. That’s our bus stop!

“Uhh Char. This is the stop where we got on the bus. I think we just rode in a big circle,” I hesitantly tell Charlotte.
“Yeah, this is where we got on.”
“We really did just take the bus for a grand tour of Lausanne.”

Voila! We ended up right where we started. By now, the dinner party has already been in session for 2 hours. We’re tired. It would take another 30 minutes to get there. We are running in the morning. We decide to put up the white flag. Dear Fate, you win. You already decided we would not attend Thanksgiving dinner. We fought–we fought hard. Alas, we did not attend Thanksgiving dinner. Giddy from all the failures of the evening, we re-enter the kitchen and collapse into a chair. We microwave the now cold dish and proceed to eat our 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of lemon pepper green beans. Happy Thanksgiving.

Fate: 4, C&K: 1




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