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28 November 2012 / leggypeggy

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Patagonia


Rael and Lauren keep an eye on the huge fire bed where turkey stew is cooking.

No doubt about it, Thanksgiving is my favourite US holiday—because it’s about sharing food with friends and family.

Every few years, I throw a Thanksgiving shindig in Australia. The invitation list is always pretty much the same, and guests are asked to bring their signature dish. I’m not talking about their prettiest plate, but what they put on it. Then I roast a couple of turkeys and legs of lamb, bake at least four pumpkin and pecan pies, and make anything else I think might be missing.

There’s some history relating to signature dishes. When strawberry-tart maker moved back to the UK, she ‘left’ her recipe to another Thanksgiving regular. One year when I called to invite the pavlova makers, and they asked if the mud cakes were coming. Invitees are very serious about the menu!

That said, we’ve been travelling extensively since 2009, so I’ve neglected Thanksgiving for the last few years and I expected to do the same this year.

Heck, we’re on an overland truck trip in South America, and this Thanksgiving we camped on a remote farm in Patagonia in the south of Chile.

On Thanksgiving Day, we stopped in a small town—Puerto Natales—on the way to the farm so our cook groups could buy ingredients for three days worth of dinners and breakfasts. We were to cook first. I bought the makings for chicken stir-fry—but our meat was frozen solid, so the next group said they’d cook instead.

They’d bought everything they needed for a chicken stew—a great choice because the weather was cold and they’d be cooking over wood fires.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when they opened the meat to discover they’d bought was nice big slices of turkey leg—osso bucco pavo. Things like this happen when no one in the cook group can read Spanish!

So we had turkey stew (with plenty of vegetables) and mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and a sit-down meal to boot—a rare event when you usually camp and cook outdoors over an open fire.


Sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner in Patagonia.


Leave a Comment
  1. Louise Scrivener / Nov 28 2012 10:22 pm

    Wowey Zowey! Look at the SIZE OF THAT MASH and the impressive steam billowing off the plates!!!!!

    That’s one mighty meal that was mightily enjoyed, no doubt.



    • leggypeggy / Nov 29 2012 1:26 am

      The mash was amazing — as was the entire meal. But we had to wear our coats for almost a week.


  2. / Nov 29 2012 2:41 am

    Is never where one is in the world, but Thanksgiving is about sharing and caring with family and friends!
    For us, it is about the memories and laughter that never ends!
    Thanksgiving, other than my birthday is the BIGGEST holiday we celebrate!
    GREAT times, GREAT friends, GREAT foods…Simply GREAT!
    Thanks for sharing your adventures too!
    As I am THANKFUL to have friends like Poor John and YOU! WHOO HOO!


    • leggypeggy / Nov 29 2012 3:12 am

      Thanks for your friendship too, Joanne. Thanksgiving is totally about sharing and we all felt so lucky to have this experience in such a remote part of the world. But by gosh it was cold. 🙂


      • mickeydownunder1 / Nov 29 2012 4:33 am

        Is 42C here today, can you send some coolness out way? lol ENJOY!


      • leggypeggy / Nov 29 2012 11:06 am

        Sending coolness. We have plenty of it.


  3. lmo58 / Nov 29 2012 8:22 am

    We’re having an unpleasant taste of early summer too so I’m with mickey—any coolness will be greatly appreciated. I’m so pleased you were able to have such a magnificent Thanksgiving feast. And in the true Australian, Christian, Catholic tradition of ask and you shall receive, I give you this. If you invite me to your next Thanksgiving shindig in Canberra I will bring not one, but two, yes count them ladies and gentlemen, two signature dishes. My dishes of choice would be eggplant parmigiana and cake with ginger al la Poor John’s birthday cake. However, I could also be persuaded that mushroom risotto would be more suitable. Please note my delicate subtlety!!

    And yay!!!! I finally finished the thesis. For a total of 86 hours, not counting the days when I didn’t record the hours I worked or forgot to turn on the timer for a while, 48 hours went into fixing the endnotes and formatting.


    • leggypeggy / Nov 29 2012 11:06 am

      Congratulations on finishing the thesis—a huge achievement.
      As for Thanksgiving, your signature dishes sound wonderful. I wonder if I’ll manage to get organised in 2013? I think my last official Thanksgiving in Canberra may have been 2007.
      Stay cool. We are in Ushuaia at the very bottom of the world. It’s cold, but not as cold as the farm in Patagonia.



  1. A taste of farm life in the wilds of Patagonia « Where to next?

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