“Thanksgiving dinner in Spain?” you say! Yes! Although Thanksgiving is traditionally American, Spain loves to embrace events from other countries. For example, we have seen the popularity of Christmas and Halloween increase since moving to Spain. When Spanish friends come for dinner, they invariably ask us to cook something British – so they can learn more about our food and eating habits.
Our Spanish friends and neighbours enjoy the edible gifts we have provided for various events (or just for kicks) over the years that include such things as mulled wine and even the humble vol au vent. We share our customs and food and in return our friends have taught us much about Spanish celebrations and cuisine.
That being said, Spain has its own unique way of celebrating Thanksgiving, anchoring its own culture and traditions alongside the more American way of celebrating. In both countries, Thanksgiving is viewed as an opportunity to give thanks and to celebrate with family.
Aside from honouring God during this occasion (and for many of us, religion just isn’t our thing), the beauty of Thanksgiving lies in the joy of being with family and friends. What makes it even better is sharing a sumptuous meal with them. After all – combining family and food is very Spanish anyway – so what’s not to love?
If you’re planning to host a Thanksgiving dinner in Spain, or you have some Spanish friends that would come over for Thanksgiving, here are some information and tips that you could consider:
Add Spanish flavours to your menu
Obviously, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner in Spain requires you to have Spanish ingredients – sourcing your all-American favourites may not be possible in some parts of Spain – or is rather pricey. Spanish ingredients are not necessarily direct substitutes suitable for your all-American menu. Mixing in some Spanish flavours as an adaptation of your menu can solve this easily. For the perfect Spanish/American blend, you can try cooking the following;
- Maple Roast Turkey – A North American traditional turkey roasted in maple and sage smoked bacon stuffed with cornbread. Never miss a turkey on Thanksgiving, save the maple roast turkey recipe on your digital device.
- Paella – One of the best known Spanish cuisines, Paella is a serving of rice that’s loaded with a variety of toppings.
- Albondigas – Translated as meatballs, this course is basically a oozy sauce with meatballs. It’s a quick and easy to cook dish… and a frequent addition in the Spain Buddy household.
- Chicken croquettes – These are finger-licking, creamy, ground chicken and bechamel barrels… coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried to perfection.
- Fish with lemon – To complete your buffet, add some lemon-butter baked fish. Garnished with asparagus and lemon, this dish would spice up your dining table with its tangy flavor and vibe.
Those are the main dishes that you should consider when hosting a Spanish Thanksgiving. As for the side dishes, you can try the following:
- Pipirrana de Jaen – In some regions of Spain, the dish is also called Ensalada de Pepino (Cucumber salad). Other versions include tomato and green pepper. A perfect side dish and something a little lighter to help you wade through the mountain of denser food you may have prepared.
- White Bean and Cheese Dips – White bean and cheese dips are the dip that would end all debates for the best dip. It transforms your ordinary beans into a delicious dip with olive oil and herbs.
- Sobrasada is a Balearic preparation of chorizo spread and paprika; a bit like a spicy meat paste, it’s much yummier than it sounds! Serve with bread and runny honey.
- Of course, your Spanish Thanksgiving isn’t complete without any drinks. You can try mixing our Spain Buddy Rosado Spritzer, which is a light and refreshing drink that forms a juicy texture that comes between a white wine spritzer and tinto de verano. Normally we have that in the summer, but it pairs really well during a celebration.
Prepare to speak Spanish
If you are still learning the Spanish language and are nervous about spending a whole evening conversing – don’t panic! Learning some basic Spanish words or phrases would cut any ice. As long as you have your Spanish/English doctionary or phrasebook to hand (and keep the food/drink coming) you’ll be fine.
Here are some Spanish words or phrases that you might find useful in conversing with your Spanish friends:
- Happy Thanksgiving – Feliz día de acción de gracias
- Welcome – Bienvenidas (feminine) / Bienvenidos (masculine)
- Do you like the food? – Te gusta la comida?
- Would you love some more? – Te gustaría un poco más?
- Thank you – Gracias
- You’re welcome – De nada
- Thank you for coming – Gracias por venir
Dinner time is different in Spain.
Make sure to be specific in mentioning the time when you invite your Spanish friends to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner time in Spain usually starts well into the evening and often as late as 10pm or 11pm. Don’t be surprised if no Spanish friends arrive when you say, “Come for dinner at 4:00 pm.”
Create or find a playlist to play
When there’s music playing in the background, there would be no awkward silent moments for guests. Music of choice for dinner would be something light – perhaps even something instrumental. Aside from the fact that it’s light, most people like a little background noise. Be heedful also of your guests by including some Spanish songs on the playlists.
Celebrating Thanksgiving in Spain is like celebrating Thanksgiving in any other part of the world. In celebrating though, let us be guided that the essence of all the bun-fights and get-togethers is to give thanks.
As a host, the guarantee of your guests’ satisfaction and comfort is your primary goal. Spanish or non-Spanish, take into account your guests preferences, beliefs, traditions, and most especially their taste and choice of food and drinks.
Prepare seasonal dishes that they would love, learn the language, and provide something that would make them feel at home. Each minute detail you add as a host would make a difference when you see that your guests are satisfied and happy with what you’ve prepared for them.
Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business – Spain Web Design by Gandy-Draper.
Born a “Norverner”, she then spent most of her life “Dann Saff” before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle’s loves are Alan, the internet, dogs, good food, and dry white wine – although not necessarily in that order.