Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Christmas Turkey for Spain

Just to give you a break from the plethora of recipes you will be seeing on The Italian Kitchen Table blog site, I want to share with you an amusing story about the time I decided to take my Christmas Turkey to Spain for my Spanish Family.
My Spanish friend and I decided we would take an American Turkey Dinner to Spain for the holidays of Natividad, the Spanish Christmas.
The first thing I did was to call the airline I was flying on to get their approval of carrying a turkey with me on the airplane. We then went to our local supermarket when they were having a special on turkeys such as by spending $50, we could purchase a turkey for .28 per pound, so we bought a 22 lb turkey that was already frozen and placed it in the freezer until my travel date. I bought 3 lbs of homemade Italian Sausage from the Italian butcher and placed it on top of the turkey in the freezer along with the blue ice packs that would help keep the turkey frozen for the length of time I needed to get to our destination.
When the day came to go to the airport, I placed the turkey, the sausage, and the blue ice packs in a cooler bag with wheels that my dear friend had given to me. I also took a large bag of herb flavored stuffing croutons just in the event we could not find them in the super mercado.
I arrive at the airport and checked my luggage keeping the cooler bag with me to go into the overhead in the cabin. When I got to the doorway of the smaller prep plane that was to take me to LGA, I was told I had to relinquish my cooler bag to be put into the body of the aircraft. So, I let it go, reluctantly, as I had no choice.
When the short air travel from PVD to LGA came to an end, I waited for my cooler bag to be retrieved. It came back to me with the wheels broken off and I realized that I now had to carry the 22 lb frozen turkey through the airport. We had very little time between flights, so, I rushed to my next gate only to find that due to the weather conditions, my flight to Spain had been cancelled and the next flight out would be the next day at 6:00 pm. I was in shock, to say the least.
My first thought was to notify my Spanish Family of the delay so they would not be waiting at the airport on the wrong day. I immediately went to the airline desk to try to make a phone call as non of the house phones on the wall were responding. They told me to go to the third floor and the customer service would be able to help me. I dragged the 22 lb turkey to the third floor and was told that I was misinformed and must go to the second floor customer service. So, I dragged the 22 lb turkey to the second floor only to be told that I most go to the airline desk on the first floor window where I was in the first place. So, I dragged the 22 lb turkey to the airline desk on the first floor. I was told by an attendant, that I could not make a phone call, however, she could send and email to the Barajas Airport in Madrid and they would definitely get the message to the persons who would be picking me up at the airport. Well, needless to say, they never got the message and came to get me on the wrong day.
Because I was an international traveler, I was entitled to lodging at the airport hotel. The shuttle bus arrived and I dragged the 22 lb turkey on the shuttle bus and off the shuttle bus to the check-in desk at the hotel and then to my room where the turkey and I stayed for the evening. To say the least, my back was broken, and I could not wait to take hot shower and get into bed.
The next morning, I went downstairs for the complimentary breakfast. As I was passing by the gift shop, I saw a small piece of carry-on luggage the approximate size of the turkey in the cooler bag. So, I purchased the carry on luggage for $50. The cooler bag would not fit into the carry-on, only because the wheels were half broken of and twisted. My next stop was at the concierge, where they were kind enough to saw off the broken and twisted wheels. The cooler bag fit perfectly into the carry-on bag containing the turkey, the Italian sausage, and the blue ice packs and we were ready to roll. I was then taken back to the airport and after a five hour wait, I boarded my flight to Spain with my turkey in the overhead rack. It took two strong men to lift that 22 lb frozen turkey and place it there. The turkey and I traveled overnight and arrived safe and sound at Barajas Airport in Madrid the next morning. My Spanish Family was there to greet me and we all drove back to the house in Madrid where they had prepared a spectacular meal for me, and we talked about the traveling turkey and it's delemmas.
After a good night's rest, the next day, we packed up and traveled to visit relatives in Talarrubias, Badajo, Spain which is a five hours drive to the north west of Madrid, where we were to cook and serve the turkey for Nocha Buena/Christmas Eve. Fortunately, the turkey took three days to thaw which was perfect timing for the preparation of this turkey dinner.
Well, I finally prepared the turkey, made the Italian sausage stuffing and stuffed the turkey.
We then faced the unforeseen challenge of not having an oven that was hot enough to cook the turkey, so we had to take it to the local ciudad bakery with a fire burning oven, which took a few hours, however, dinner was not to be served until 10:00 pm, so we were right on schedule.
Turkey is not prevalent in Spain. The Spanish took their horses and chickens to America, but the turkey is native to America and, therefore, a rarity in Spain. My Spanish Family had never eaten turkey until this special Nocha Buena evening. The traveling turkey was a sight to behold and very delicious. My Spanish Family and their guests enjoyed every bite of the American Turkey with the Italian Sausage stuffing.

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