I find it fascinating watching people adapt their cultures to different cultures. In America, I remember a few instances, like the Brazilians next door having their BBQ parties (amazing!). My Somalian friend Taj doing his evening prayers using pizza boxes as a prayer mat when I worked at Domino’s. The Pakistani family who I occasionally delivered pizzas to, holed up in a motel room that emitted an enticing cloud of curry when they opened the door.

(Man, I only delivered pizzas for nine months over ten years ago, but I still have many stories.)

The other half is watching people bring their cultures to Korea. It’s one thing to watch foreigners come into your territory. It’s another thing when you’re the foreigner.

The Americans really go nuts at this time. I truly think so. We have to have turkey or some kind of tradition in some form around the fourth Thursday in November. I pick up little anecdotes here and there. Jennifer from Seoul Survivors planned to make a carrot cake for her co-worker Thanksgiving. There was a get together of folks in Itaewon tonight that I had to pass on–a potluck dinner. People have emailed me or have casually sniffed around for any event where turkey was involved.

Big Hominid made his own Thanksgiving dinner.

He is showing himself to be a pretty competent and, dare I say, passionate cook. I have been enjoying his food blog entries.

He made a Thanksgiving dinner at home with whatever he could get his hands on. And I do want to know where he got that Jimmy Dean sausage. I don’t remember seeing that at Costco. Maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough.

His students, so I hear, have ravaged his pumpkin pie.

Oh, and that’s another thing I’ve noticed in my little realm. Eun Jeong, my girlfriend who turns her nose up at half the Western foods I cook, also ripped into the pumpkin pie I made a couple of weeks ago.

It’s funny how this came about. Eun Jeong’s school tried half-heartedly to celebrate Halloween. Yet there are no foreign teachers there, so, well, there weren’t many firsthand references to draw from. It’s like trying to celebrate Chuseok with no Koreans around to tell you how to do it right.

Eun Jeong’s boss had it in her mind to let the kids make their own jack-o-lanterns. The kids made their designs on little pumpkins. Eun Jeong, poor thing, had to carve every single one of them.

There went out any hope that Eun Jeong would learn to enjoy this holiday.

She returned home with a few “mistake” pumpkins. She peeled them, cut them up, and put them in a plastic bag. I turned them into a pumpkin pie and Chez Pim’s Coconut-Pumpkin Panna Cotta (which turned out to be more of a soup since I didn’t add enough gelatin). It actually got a few raves from her.

With the pumpkin pie, I used a good recipe that reduced the liquid in the pumpkin itself to create a more pumpkiny pumpkin pie. I added more cinnamon than the recipe called for, though.

The other part didn’t work out so well. It’s hard to get shortening in Korea, so a proper flaky pie crust is hard to make. I have used butter in the past, but it comes out dry. I found a recipe that suggested using oil, specifically olive oil, to make the crust. The dough had the consistency of a loose pizza dough. It wasn’t pliable and workable, and I had to press it into the pan. When it came out–it tasted like pumpkin pie with loads of olive oil.

Nonetheless, it was my first pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkins. It wasn’t that hard to pull off. And Eun Jeong found that spice-laden American desserts don’t always taste like Chinese medicine.

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