Apologies this post is nearly a month late! There have been so many happenings in January, and many exciting things to update! But instead of giving excuse after excuse, let’s jump right into it: as stated in my previous post, I had the opportunity to celebrate Christmas outside of the United States for the first time in my life, and what better way to spend it than in Paraguay? I spent my ‘first’ Christmas, December 24th, celebrating all of the traditional Paraguayan festivities to ring in the holiday (read more about the experience here). The ‘second’ Christmas I celebrated was on the 25th, where I invited all of my close-by fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and some Paraguayan friends to have a traditional American Christmas dinner!
It was a blast. I’ve never cooked a traditional Christmas dinner before, so being in charge of all of the preparation, cooking, and decorating initially seemed like a daunting task, ESPECIALLY when you’re unsure of how the food will come out with Paraguayan ingredients. Then my grandmother’s genes kicked in and I turned into a lean, mean, cooking machine and project manager of the kitchen. Check out the pictures below of us preparing for the feast!
Our two beautiful 5 kg chickens (turkeys are rare and expensive in Paraguay) all spiced up and ready to be stuffed! Thanks to my grandmother’s instructions, I remembered to sprinkle paprika all over the top so that it would broil well. Thanks Muzzy!
My fridge full of all of the food I prepared ahead of time: twice baked potatoes, deviled eggs, and raspberry jello.
A visiting Canadian helping prep for our Christmas meal in my kitchen
Stuffing the chickens with our homemade apple… stuffing.
Our chickens ready to go in the oven!
Our ‘appetizer spread’ (my grandpa GB would be so proud): caprese salad, deviled eggs, latkes (one of the Peace Corps Volunteers who came was Jewish), onion dip, and the cheese platter! Everything was consumed in a matter of minutes, except for the cheese platter. You know that the food is good when Peace Corps Volunteers are so stuffed they can’t even touch the cheese!
Showing my Paraguayan friend Doris how to decorate gingerbread cookies! I got the cookie cutouts from the U.S. for this special occasion.
My friends Dennis and Doris decorating the gingerbread cookies. This is their first time they’ve ever done it before.
The finished result, a truly collaborative effort! Too bad I totally forgot about the cookies while they burned in the oven and were then inedible. Oh well…
Fellow Peace Corps Volunteers Wendy and Zoe serving our main entrées: roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
My closest Volunteer Zoe and closest Paraguayan Liz celebrating an American Christmas in Paraguay!
I forgot to even take pictures of dessert, which included my Mom’s famous Christmas candy and an INCREDIBLE cheesecake Doris brought that we all went nuts over. Even though our stomachs were bursting from appetizers and dinner we each managed to eat a slice each.
It truly was an wonderful celebration- us 11 participants played American Christmas music, drank wine and coke, and stuffed our faces full of incredible American food that you would never dare to dream of having in Paraguay (it was marvelous, if I do say so myself). Our Paraguayan friends LOVED all of the food, and we celebrated by having an impromptu dance party in my house afterwards. Dennis taught us Brazilian Bachata while Wendy busted out some incredible tango moves. We ended the night with popcorn and Men In Black.
Thanks to everyone that attended for making Christmas so special for me. It’s hard to be away from family during such an important holiday, but being surrounded by people that do love you makes it all the worthwhile.
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