It all starts with Thanksgiving, when our tastebuds yearn for turkey, bread stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes and pies.
But how do you satisfy those holiday cravings when your primary meals are from a mess hall, or the stores don’t carry any of those traditional items to prepare at home? You improvise. Embrace and celebrate your temporary home by integrating local foods into your routine.
First, though, don’t get FOMO* fever about the upcoming holidays. Armed Forces Entertainment is your one-stop shop for seasonal entertainment. This year’s Home for the Holidays tours run throughout December, bringing free, live music and merriment right to your door. No matter where that door is. So keep the site bookmarked and return often to see the full schedule and updates on shows.
Now, here are five ways to modify your holiday traditions while adding local flavor to your table.
1. Getting a turkey well before Christmas can be a tricky endeavor when stationed in Europe. You can always turn to chicken, pheasant, duck or goose, however a holiday staple like cranberries could be harder to come by. Scandinavians favor lingonberries, which are sold across Europe. Both berries are tart and can be treated the same way to create a sweet/tart sauce that’s ideal with poultry.
Spanakopita, a spinach and feta cheese filled phyllo pastry
2. The warmth of the Mediterranean region gives Americans stationed in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Egypt a unique opportunity to fold cheeses into any feast. Add spanakopita, flaky phyllo pastry wrapping a mixture of spinach and feta cheese, to your list of side dishes.
3. If you’re posted in Alaska, you’ve got a wide range of wild game and fish to add to the table. This year you could feature elk, halibut, salmon or even reindeer as your centerpiece and live like a local. But how about using Alaskan sausage in your stuffing recipe to add local flavor to your meal? If you’re stationed in Hawaii, you may be invited to a luau, or find poké, poi and rice on more traditional turkey feasts.
MOFONGO, A PUERTO RICAN DISH CONSISTED OF MASHED PLANTAINS AND PORK OR CHICKEN & SPICES
PAVOCHÓN, A TURKEY DISH SEASONED WITH ADOBO, SAZÓN, OREGANO AND GARLIC
4. Puerto Ricans celebrate Thanksgiving in their own unique way melding their cuisines into traditional mainland dishes. Pavochón, for example, is turkey seasoned with adobo, sazón, oregano and plenty of garlic, the same way spit-roasted pork (lechón) is seasoned. Add a side of mofongo, sweet plantains, or rice and beans, and you’ve woven a bit of island life into your holiday meal.
5. Kuwaiti cuisine is best described as a fusion of Eastern Arabian foods, with rice taking center stage. Consider integrating dates into your stuffing and side dishes for a sweet and savory dish. Change up your dessert routine with a plate of maamoul (date-filled cookies), baklava, halwa or kanafeh.
Finally, add a soundtrack to your Thanksgiving celebration with music from AFE. Tune into concerts from our touring artists delivering country, rock, R&B and pop – straight from home to you.
*Fear of missing out