Planning Ahead for a 2020 Florence Thanksgiving in Safety

 

Over recent years, Thanksgiving, which this year falls on November 26, has become a popular American tradition that even Italians and other foreigners like to partake in. Despite a worsening COVID situation, many around Florence have not let that stop them from getting into the holiday spirit and sharing it with others. Since the city and the Tuscan region have slipped into the red zone, the prospect of celebrating becomes a creative task, with safety the priority.

Unlike typical Italian meals that are served in courses, Thanksgiving is usually served all at once with the turkey as a centerpiece and all of the accompanying sides surrounding it. People have built upon the standard to incorporate their own traditions like macaroni and cheese, roasted Brussel sprouts and bacon, bread pudding, and more.  This year, beside shopping for the meal’s ingredients for an intimate Thanksgiving at home, Florence residents have the option of having the feast delivered.  Though the worst of the current health emergency is not over yet, there is nothing better than a delicious meal meant to express gratitude. Not everyone will be able to get together physically due to the limitations about travel and guests from other households, but there is a way to help minimize the distance. No one says you can’t have dinner over Zoom!

For those feeling ambitious enough to take on the grand dinner themselves, it’s easy to find all the fixings. You may have to go to several markets and grocery stores to get them all, but the result at the end will be worth it.  Vivi Market on Via del Giglio supplies all the good American stuff from cranberry sauce and canned pumpkin, to graham cracker crusts, marshmallows, and sweetened condensed milk.  Sweet potatoes, yams and ground spices can be found at local Conad or Esselunga supermarkets or the greengrocer.  The butchers at Mercato Centrale, Mercato Sant’Ambrogio and Vignoli are taking orders from just the breast to the whole bird, prepared to one’s liking.  Polleria Lanini at Sant’Ambrogio (055 248 0629) will actually deliver the turkey to your door.

For those not so savvy in the kitchen, or overwhelmed with the number of dishes to make, there are several choices available with a little more flair, brought right to your home. 

The Djària American Bar on via de’ Serragli will be preparing an abundant, traditional style meal for €30 a person (a special price is offered for families) and is accepting pre-orders until November 18. Founded and run by the New Jersey native Sarah Webb and her Italian husband Nicolò Scanferlito. Djària was named in honor of their dogs: Django (a setter and springer spaniel adopted after being found in a dumpster) and Aria (a boxer).  With 14 years in the business, Sarah is currently the chef.  Given her background, she knows all the right flavors, while Nicolò, who was the barman when the restaurant was open to the public before the Covid shutdown, will be making the deliveries.  On their Thanksgiving menu are all the typical dishes such as roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy or sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, green bean casserole, cornbread, and a choice of pumpkin or apple pie—two hefty dessert servings are included per person. Can’t forget the cranberry sauce! Contact on WhatsApp at +39 348 913 9531.

Another local personally cooking up Thanksgiving favorites is the woman behind The Dolce Vita Experience, also accepting pre-orders but only until November 19. Here personal chef Ileana Collado from New York will provide an elaborate, gourmet set up for only €15 a person. Included in the price is the choice of white or dark turkey meat; up to three sides such as creamy green beans and mushrooms, sausage cornbread stuffing, chive mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and more; and a slice of pumpkin, apple, or even pecan pie. Contact on Instagram @thedolcevitaexperience or WhatsApp at +39 331 579 6997. There is even a turkey sandwich option available for €6.  Pick up is on November 26 and 27 from the Sant’Ambrogio area.

To enjoy pumpkin, apple or pecan pies by a London-trained baker in addition to pumpkin bread and cupcakes, pre-order at the Vanilla Bakery in Galluzzo at 055/046-2755 or info@vanillacake.it.

Check back next week for restaurants that not only provide a good dinner—take out or delivered—the night of, but serve the leftovers as sandwiches the next day. (cathy doherty/additional reporting by rosanna cirigliano)