This was our first Thanksgiving in Panama, as well as our first-ever Thanksgiving outside the United States.
Thanksgiving dinner — turkey, cranberry sauce and all the fixin’s — is a uniquely US traditional meal. So much so that, years ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving in August with our French exchange student so that he could enjoy a truly American experience.
For me, Thanksgiving was always the one holiday when my family made a big effort to get together. Although that happened less often once we had high-school age kids, Thanksgiving has always been the big family holiday for me.
I admit it, I was facing my first Thanksgiving abroad with a bit of worry. Trepidation, in fact.
Fortunately, my friends Jim and Priscilla came through with flying colors.
Jim and Priscilla own a restaurant here in Las Tablas, Panama. It’s called Ponchalos, and it’s on the main drag (the doble via) by the town’s only traffic light.
Normally they serve American-style hamburgers, wings, fries and pizza. But on November 22, they put on a full Thanksgiving spread.
Ponchalos is a sports bar as well as a restaurant, so football fans gathered early to watch the big game. We wandered in a few minutes before 4 PM. We had plenty of time to socialize before dinner.
It was a nice crowd. We already knew about half the folks who showed up, and got the chance to meet some new faces.
No, I didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with family this year, but we had a fun afternoon and evening with lots of friends.
And the food was good.
Priscilla’s the cook — Jim handles marketing and PR — and she produced a meal that included turkey with gravy and dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, broccoli, carrots, a vegetable medley and a scoop of something green that I assumed was guacamole — but wasn’t. Turned out it was a dish of spiced, pureed green peas.
For dessert, pumpkin and apple pies with ice cream. (I forgot to take a picture of it. My bad.)
I also realized at some point that this was the first Thanksgiving in over 30 years when I hadn’t cooked!
Here’s a little video clip.
How do you handle Thanksgiving overseas? Do you have a special food or ritual that makes the day for you? You can share in the Comments below.
Ponchalos Restaurante photo courtesy of Ponchalos.
Sarah Pitcher says
Can anyone out there tell me if a meal replacement drink (i.e Ensure, Boost) is available in Panamá, and if so, where can I get it?
We are planning a trip in a few weeks and I have a restricted diet.