It looked like disaster was looming, as if it
were going to be a rotten Christmas. Woe was us.
Here we are, strangers in this country, and
Christmas was fast approaching. Lynn wanted to go out to dinner on
Christmas Eve but she wanted to make Christmas night dinner of
turkey at home. There are a couple small groceries in old central
Delft but none had anything resembling a turkey. We found out that
if we went to the big Albert Heijn (pronounced Hine), we could find
a turkey there in addition to other things she also wanted to get
including poultry seasoning and sausage for the stuffing. Albert
Heijn is one of the two chain groceries that are everywhere in The
Netherlands, not unlike a 7/11.
The big Albert Heijn is in "new" Delft, about a
mile away. We walked down there with our shopping cart, filled with
Christmas optimism. The place was packed. Shopping in a different
language is hard enough when there is time is to examine the items,
but when one stops for five seconds to consider something, a traffic
jam ensues and one can hear figurative horn blowing in ones head as
nobody can get around you and everyone is in a hurry. We found
something that looked like a turkey. It was the right shape and
color but it seemed too small, two and a half kilograms, about five
and a half pounds for those using the English system of weights and
measures. But a turkey it was and we put it in the basket. I noticed
the price and felt like I had swallowed the turkey whole: 14.50. At
dollars per pound with the current exchange rate, this puppy was
about $3.56/lb. Here is what you could get a turkey for in the
· Superfresh in Philadelphia sells
Jennie-O Grade "A" Turkeys for 49 cents per pound.
· the Shop Rite in Philadelphia has
Butterball Fresh Turkeys selling for 50 cents per pound.
· Giant in Cherry Hill, NJ offers Super G/
Carolina Turkeys for 69 cents per pound
· at Genuardis in Norristown, Manor House
Turkeys sell for 39 cents per pound
· and the Acme in Bala Cynwyd is selling
Butterball Turkeys for $1.19 per pound
This was more like lobster tail or shrimp or
something. It HAD to be good.
The poultry seasoning was another matter. How
does one say "poultry seasoning" in Dutch? We didnt know and when
Lynn asked a kid in the store, he either didnt know what she meant
or didnt know where the item was. In either case, we were getting
claustrophobic from the crowds and frustrated at not being able to
find anything. We walked the mile back home being a bit gloomy.
Things were not going well. Plan B was to get the non-turkey items
early the next day at a place closer to home at a time of day with
This was a good idea. No sausage was available
but Lynn found some cranberries, and instead of poultry seasoning,
she got some rosemary and thyme. (Wait, poultry seasoning, rosemary
and thyme. I may be on to something here.) We found out later that
poultry seasoning is called wild zeisoen and that sausage is
available at a butcher shop. Its still a mystery to me why some
meat is available at the grocer and some at the butcher. There are
also two kinds of butchers, beef and poultry. Of course, we learned
this too late but at least we learned it. But once again I digress.
On the afternoon of Christmas it was time to fire
up the oven. Its a convection oven which means that theres a fan
inside that circulates the hot air. When using one of these, things
cook at a lower temperature and for shorter times. We guessed an
hour and a half and 175 degrees for a five and a half pound turkey.
That temperature wouldnt crack a sweat in a dry sauna but this is
Celsius so thats about 350 Fahrenheit.
We waited. The time expired. Lynn hit a home run.
The turkey was juicy and delicious, the stuffing was superb with the
new and different ingredients, and the potatoes, which presented no
obstacles, were terrific.
This was the first year since we were married
that we spent this holiday alone with just each other. Its fair to
say that we did feel a large void where Aaron and Bruce should have
been. But, all in all, our Christmas worked out really well and we
had a fine time. Lynn and I both hope that all of you also had a
fine time and spent the holiday with those you love.