Living abroad is exciting. Being an expat is fabulous! But it’s not without sacrifices and pain. How can I not long for my family, friends and the familiar during the holidays?
Now that Hanukkah is here I think most vividly of Hanukkah last year when I was living in LA and my aunt’s and uncle’s home was at the height of reconstruction. Dust was everywhere. We only had a microwave to reheat latkes and chicken soup. My friend David joined us and my aunt made sure he had a present too. This year I celebrated only night 3 of Hanukkah but I made it count!
A shout out to all my Dallas friends – I brought back the Latke Bar!
As you can see in the picture, this year was not about your average Latkes.
-For the traditionalist we had the The Original (just potatoes)
-Because we all miss Mexican food The Taco Latke (chilies and Taco seasoning).
-For the adventurers The Health Nut (green radish, carrots, spinach and curry, sans potato). This one turned out great! It reminded me of a snack from India’s Sweet and Spice on Venice in Culver City.
-Our toppings were also a mix – homemade applesauce (mashed the apples myself!), sour cream and pico de gallo! We can get great cilantro here.
Everyone was really gracious and excited to celebrate the holiday too. They learned about Hanukkah as kids but never celebrated it. My only regrets are that we didn’t make more latkes and we didn't have dreidels!!
It’s also strange how cultures adopt each others traditions. For the Muslims in Kyrgyzstan a “Christmas Tree” is erected on New Years and a man dressed like Santa Claus is the equivalent of Father Time! I don’t know where this tradition comes from – Was it way for the Soviet’s to remove religion from the tradition or a recent capitalist invention? I need to do more research. In any case, the grocery store next to my house is decked out in Christmas/New Years decorations and in a way it’s comforting. It’s just enough to feel festive and familiar but not overbearing. I certainly don’t miss the malls of America right now!
I’m also very excited to say Aaron and I will be spending Christmas in London and New Years in Paris! I’ve never been to either city and I can’t wait to see themI do plan on cooking dinner Christmas Eve (all my Atlanta, TX favorites) and then maybe we’ll go out for Chinese on Christmas Day. ! If you have any suggestions of great little hidden gems in either city, please send them along!