In my first November living in Milan, in around 1999, I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner being held by an American friend. Not quite knowing what to expect, I turned up at his apartment with Christmas pudding and mince pies, mistakenly thinking they were appropriate for a meal that included stuffed and roasted turkey. These British Christmas staples went down OK with the Brits present; less so with the Americans, and worse still with the Italians.
For my next seven years living in the city, I happily accepted invitations from American expats each November, and since settling back in the UK I have not passed up the opportunity to travel back to Milan at this time of year, specifically to partake of the festivities.
Our Italy editor-at-large, JJ Martin, has been the hostess since 2005. Occasionally her Californian and Italian family attend, but on the whole the guests include Milan-based Americans (who often contribute sweet potato purée or pumpkin pie), Brits (with wine or flowers) and Italians, travelling from as far as Sicily, loaded with cassata and other sweets. Rather than just family, the crowd includes fashion, design and architecture heavy-hitters. JJ prepares amazing food and the A-listers’ restaurant of choice, Da Giacomo, cooks the bird, as turkey for 45 is something of a challenge for a domestic Gaggenau.
Christmas can feel like an inconvenient interruption these days (we can’t escape to the sun until it’s over), so as a non-North American I am only too happy to adopt Thanksgiving as a new holiday and am all for using my influence to encourage it to go global. Naturally, I love a perfectly set table and the chance to get all the good stuff out. Visit store.wallpaper.com this month and you will see a big focus on entertaining, with everything you will need to serve up in style. Curating that offer is kind of like planning multiple Thanksgivings myself, without having to do the washing-up afterwards.
Logically, the next step is to host my own international Thanksgiving. I’d love to get all our friends to jet in for the weekend. I would have it in the mountains, perhaps in the Südtirol, conveniently located in the middle of Europe. I would invite Margot Henderson to cook, tweaking the traditional offering in an attempt to keep the Italians happy – they can’t cope with mixing things on their plate. Margot once cooked in Milan for Kvadrat during Salone del Mobile. She relished shopping in the local markets and the food was exceptional. As for the dessert, I will pass on the pumpkin pie, but Margot will mix up a cranberry version of Christmas pudding – hopefully that will catch on, too.