Monday, November 21, 2011

What Does a Singapore Thanksgiving Look Like?

More than one person has asked me, "Do they celebrate Thanksgiving over there?", and I've tried to be polite and understanding when I answer.  But, really...why would Singaporeans celebrate a holiday that's 100% American?  Have we forgotten the history behind the celebration?    I know other countries do celebrate their own day of Thanksgiving, but they're not gearing up to celebrate this Thursday.  However, if you take a look around our grocery store, you'd think that all of our neighbors were, indeed, getting ready for Thanksgiving. 

For instance, I wonder if there's a Singapore version of the Butterball hotline, since they're clearly going to need one:

And, if your idea of  the perfect Thanksgiving side involves Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs (Heaven forbid!), you're in luck. Don't worry about the S$7.50 price tag; it doesn't take long to become immune to all price insanity.

Likewise with the pie filling for $7.50 a can.  It's not a Thanksgiving staple for us, but it's amusing to see so much of it so suddenly in the stores.  I'll likely buy a can of cherry pie filling to keep on hand since it's a main ingredient in one of B2's favorite desserts.  One can is cheaper than a purchased dessert, so it makes sense to splurge for something special. 

Don't forget the cranberry sauce!  Whether you prefer the smooth canned kind (like my kids), the lumpy canned kind, or freshly made with fresh cranberries, you're in luck.  All three varieties are readily available this week.  Now, if I only had that small brown rectangular Pyrex bowl from my Grandma's house for the cranberry sauce leftovers, it would really feel like Thanksgiving.  It seems like every year, we ate cranberry sauce out of the same bowl.  It just isn't the same from any other. 

For some, the French's fried onions are a high priority on their Thanksgiving shopping list. My family is not from the People of The Green Bean Casserole, but my inlaws are.  As a result, I've learned to eat it (once a year) and actually enjoy it, but I'd only make it if someone requested it specially.   It must be a tradition for every other American on the island (all 19, 996 of them), however, since the stores have pallets of mushroom soup and these onions.  I did notice some of the cheddar cheese flavored ones last week, and I remembered last Thanksgiving with a laugh.  We were on our way to celebrate in the North Georgia mountains with the Marion side of the family, and were were asked to stop and pick up the onions. Of course, the Ingles in Clarksville was out of everything but the cheese kind, and they certainly added a little something to the casserole.  Again, I don't have a long history with the dish, so I'm just guessing that the cheese variety is not preferred. 

Again, just ignore that S$7.95 price tag; everyone else who wants those French's onions certainly is.  It's a small price to pay for the comforts of something familiar. Even I might admit to enjoying some green bean casserole if it was part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal in Singapore.

I'm not sure we're having Thanksgiving dinner; I can't bring myself to pay the outrageous price for a turkey that no one is really even passionate about. Spending a day cooking for just the 4 of us probably isn't the best use of my time, either.   I'm beginning to feel a need for cornbread dressing, however, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be making cornbread for dressing after tucking kids into bed on Wednesday night.  I've made a shopping list of ingredients to have on hand...just in case!

From all indicators, it appears that a Singapore Thanksgiving looks an awfully lot like an American one. 
Maybe the next time I'm asked if we celebrate Thanksgiving over here, I'll just say, "Yep."  Want some green bean casserole?


Leone said...

thanks for that great explanation ..... we have heard of Thanksgiving and that yes, there are family celebrations ... but had no idea of the food involved.

But as with any family gathering all around the world, then I am sure food would play a major part in that!!

Sometimes here in Singapore (in fact more often than not!) its all about the commercial side of things, hence the lareg amount of American goods that suddenly happen to be on the supermarket shelves ... and the marketing people (as anywhere else in the world) will exploit the feelings of 'home sickness' that many will have over this period of time.

Yes, people will be - and are - willing to pay the higher cost of these imported goods just to have a "little bit of home" at the dinner table, and yes, it is a treat for that one day in the year.

$7.90 SGD whats the value in USD? About $6.00 USD maybe?

But add up all those $6.00 for the majority of the items .. its going to be an expensive dinner for a family of four. But still a treat, a yummy treat when one is so far from home.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day no matter what you do or what you eat ... even if its baked beans on toast ... its all about being thankful for what we have. Right??

great post, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing. L x

kristin said...

Leone, Yes, S$7.90 = roughly US$ 6. That's about twice what we would pay for those items in the US.
My favorite dish is cornbread dressing, which is something like bread pudding (without sugar and spices) - corn bread crumbles, bread crumbles, eggs, butter, milk, onion mixed together and baked. Delicious! Yeah, just typing that might have convinced me to make some - even if we have to eat it all week.

Leone said...

sounds scrumptious .... I enjoy the bread pudding (with sugar and spices) but looking at the ingredients in what you describe .. sounds easy enough. Must try that 'one day' ... guess it will have to wait till I am back in Australia with an OVEN and probably have to pay similar high prices for the imported goods!!

take care and enjoy your day.