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Eggnog, Hot Cider, Mulled Wine, and What Else?
Jin Chang
December 15, 2016 (2)

A Month of Turkey and Writing
Jin Chang
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Thanksgiving in Berlin
A.V. Crofts
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When in Need of a Celebration
Jin Chang
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Halloween in Asia
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A New Tale of Noodles
Jin Chang
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A Determined Swing
Grant Liebel
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Yet Another Thing about Pokemon GO
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The Typewriter Renaissance
Olenka Burgess
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The Impossible Reading Lists of Summer
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Happy Sushi Day! How About Some Sacrilegious Asparagus?
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A Compendium of Beloved Blogs from the Literary Food Community
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Dean Wong "Seeing the Light" Book Launch at Wing Luke Museum
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Spoonbill & Sugartown in NYC
Cali Kopczick
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Open Call: Submit to Ghosts of Seattle Past until April 30th
Cali Kopczick
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Ghosts of Seattle Past: Irish Wake for Lost Spaces
Allison Dunn
29 Monday, 2016 (0)

Week of Literary Love: Jay Gatsby
Allison Dunn
12 February, 2016 (0)

Week of Literary Love: Grendel's Mother
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Week of Literary Love: Victor Frankenstein
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Week of Literary Love: Lady Macbeth
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Our discomfort with language
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Go see The Martian!
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22 September, 2015 (0)

A Katrina Scavenger Hunt
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Hurricane Story revisited
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TexMex Richards
30 June , 2015 (1)

TexMextern Reviews: Masculinity in the Time of Cholera
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SIFF Special: Most Likely to Manipulate
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TexMextern Reviews: Reviews with a Zest!
TexMex Richards
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A Tale of Two Noodles
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11 May, 2015 (3)

It's Time We Started Talking About Endpapers
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Spine Poetry
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1 April, 2015 (3)

CMP Presents...12 by M. Lynch
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Week of Literary Love: Bartleby the Scrivener
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14 February, 2015 (0)

Week of Literary Love: Jean Valjean
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13 February, 2015 (0)

Week of Literary Love: Winnie-the-Pooh
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Week of Literary Love: Katniss Everdeen
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Week of Literary Love: Holden Caulfield
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Literary Showdown: Seattle vs. Boston
Dandi Meng
3 February , 2015 (2)

It's Time We Started Talking About Section Break Markers
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19 December, 2014 (2)

Short Run Festival Recap
Cali Kopczick
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Selling Culture: Japan and America's Trickiest Trade
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History's Bestsellers in Translation Part II: Nonfiction
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China/Seattle/Reykjavík: Ryan Boudinot on Seattle as a Global City of Literature
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History's Bestsellers in Translation Part I: Fiction
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Ramen Revisited: Tips from Ken Taya aka Enfu
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Kodawari Can Render the Prosaic Profound
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Before the Summer Runs Out: A Road Trip Proposal
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The High Art of Smelling Books
Cali Kopczick
August 4, 2014 (1)

Pike Place Location Opening and Lizard Telepathy Fox Telepathy Open House
Staff
July 28, 2014 (1)

Indie Book Publisher Opens Office/Retail Space in Seattle's Pike Place Market
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July 16, 2014 (0)

Q&A with "A Commonplace Book of Pie" Author Kate Lebo and Illustrator Jessica Lynn Bonin
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A Broadside for Mardi Gras
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Nippon-NOLA challenge: week 3
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October 24, 2012 (2)

The NOLA-Nippon challenge: week 2
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April 19, 2012 (3)

Viewed Sideways: a collection of essays by Donald Richie
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Review: The Beautiful One Has Come (Suzanne Kamata)
D. Michael Ramirez II
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The JET Program's Finest Hour
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An even dozen: slow books in a fast world
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Last Chapter for an Island Bookstore?
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June 24, 2011 (0)

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June 16, 2011 (0)

Hurricane Story - Free Offer!
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June 9, 2011 (0)

Books for Katrina-hit New Orleans Schools
David Jacobson
May 25, 2011 (0)

Todd Shimoda wins Hawaii's top literary award
Chin Music Press
April 12, 2011 (1)

"The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P": A Review
Will Eells
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A great sorrow
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Blog Entry
Thanksgiving in Berlin
A.V. Crofts
November 21, 2016

A.V. Crofts celebrating Thanksgiving in Berlin from Meet Me at the Bamboo Table

Thanksgiving in Berlin

An excerpt from Meet Me at the Bamboo Table: Everyday Meals Everywhere

I rarely traveled at Thanksgiving. Jockeying with millions of other travelers held no appeal, nor did sky-high travel costs. But in 2001, Berlin was irresistible. Reservations plummeted after September 11, and airlines responded by slashing prices. I could fly from Seattle to Berlin for less than it would cost to fly to Philadelphia. Yet it was the people I would see in Germany who tipped the scales.

The idea was to spend the holiday with three German friends—Ansgar, Markus, and Johannes—who had been exchange students on graduate fellowships at the University of Washington the year before. We had bonded over a shared fascination with politics and a love of the television show The West Wing. We piled into my living room many a Wednesday night to watch the show, following the rapid-fire dialog that most native English speakers found challenging to track. Talking politics with peers from outside the United States who were also political science students well versed in our political system was enlightening. That year, I played the role of beaming older sister to my dashing and beloved younger brothers from Europe.

That academic year flew by, and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, they had all returned to their respective schools, so I had not seen any of them for a number of months. It was a flipped script: an American packing her family recipes to prepare a Thanksgiving meal in a country that did not observe the holiday. On top of that, my arrival was a surprise for Ansgar, schemed in e-mails with Adam. Adam had been an exchange student that same year and would now fly from his native London to join us in Berlin. We were giddy from plotting our friendly subterfuge.

The plan unfolded without a hitch. Ansgar’s flat in the Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg brought grandeur to our Thanksgiving meal. Though the kitchen was compact, high ceilings accentuated a large, sumptuous main room with windows overlooking the tree-lined street. Happy ghosts from Berlin’s golden age in the 1920s glided approvingly from room to room. In any other city, the flat would have been beyond the reach of graduate students, but Berlin was still fighting its way back to economic health.

Many friends were invited in the spirit of a Thanksgiving table that can always fit one more. We spent much of Thanksgiving morning navigating wintry Berlin, food shopping for potatoes, butter, cream, pumpkin, and other fixings on our list. The city that had been severed was now almost twelve years reunified. My friends were boys at the time of reunification; now half their lives had been lived in an era of integration and new national identity. Sleek trams hummed down thoroughfares, linking former East and West neighborhoods. To my untrained eyes, the old divide between Berlin’s halves was invisible. The city felt whole, not merely reconnected. Our expedition was complete when we found a turkey that would fit in Ansgar’s shoebox of an oven. Home we went, and the kitchen commotion began.

I was air traffic control, put in charge of divvying up tasks because of my previous Thanksgiving experience. Potatoes were boiled and mashed. The turkey was seasoned, baked, and basted. Cheeses were unwrapped and arranged. Wines were uncorked to breathe. Side dishes seemed to appear out of thin air—as did a few pies.

A blanket-as-tablecloth covered the floor of the main room, turning Thanksgiving into a picnic. Plates were filled, then filled again. Some guests sported snappy vests and ties, fitted wool skirts, or cashmere sweaters—I was charmed by their sartorial finery. Johannes queued up a playlist after dessert, and the blanket morphed into a dance floor. Our bodies fizzed to the music for hours.

I went to Berlin anticipating a lavish Thanksgiving, never expecting to find equal bounty over breakfast. I woke up each morning and made my way into the kitchen to find an array of breads, jams, eggs, sliced cheeses, meats, yogurt, applesauce, and baked goods. The teapot whistled. Hot coffee perked. I know these morning meals were likely embellished for my benefit. I do the same when entertaining by flipping pancakes, folding omelets, and baking muffins with the best of them. However, those mornings in Germany drove home that a breakfast banquet only requires a stocked fridge and maybe a quick visit to a local baker for fresh bread. This was a meal of abundance you could sit down to daily.

There were many moments in Berlin where I wanted to bottle time. Seattle had been a catapult for all of my friends, and they were on exciting career trajectories. During that Thanksgiving in Berlin, though, I still played the pace car, taking one more lap before releasing the field. We ate, then accelerated forward, delighted by our speed.

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For more Thanksgiving inspiration, check out A.V. Crofts on the Foodal podcast, where she discusses international cuisine & customs and shares some of her expert pie-making advice!

 



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