There are three Peace Corps programs operating in Azerbaijan—CED, YD, and TEFL. I am part of the CED program. There are 16 of us in this program, and we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving all together. We wanted to cook our own food and have a real turkey. I signed up to make apple pie.

I’ve decided cooking in Azerbaijan is special. Everything just seems to take a lot longer and is more complicated to do. There are no measuring cups and finding the right ingredients takes longer than expected. The week before Thanksgiving I decided to make a preliminary pie for my family. I with the help of my friend and fellow volunteer Alise bought apples and all the essentials. My mom was very curious at what we were doing because I had no idea how to explain what a pie was in Azerbaijani. The word ‘pie’ does not translate well. When we got to my house, I start making the dough, and Alise starts peeling the apples. My mom watched us intently and was very impressed with my abilities to make and roll out dough. She was so impressed in fact, that she remarked “You can do something!” Before then, I never gave the slightest inclination that I could do any cooking for myself. She told me that I was “ready for marriage.” Here, when a woman learns to cook, she is ready to marry and cook for her husband. However, my friend Alise is not ready for marriage. My mom does not like the way she peels apples. In the end the pie actually came out golden brown and tasty.

For Thanksgiving one of the volunteer’s families offered to host all of us plus some extra. The total number of people added to more than 25. We had almost all the fixings. There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, a pho-cranberry sauce made out of pomegranates and apples, baked macaroni and cheese, green-bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple cider plus some extras like plov (an Azeri dish). I made another apple pie plus pomegranate turnovers. I figured pomegranate pie or turnovers would be a good idea because they would be somewhat similar to blackberries (seedy). I really liked the pomegranate turnovers. All the food was AMAZING! We did such a good job.

After eating, we hung out, talked, and played games. We played one game that we created called “Toy Olsun”. Toy Olsun is a reality television show. The premise of the show is to get people married. Contestants come on the show looking to get married and people call in as prospective partners. The people get to know each other and decide if they want to marry on another. It’s probably the most popular show in Azerbaijan. We played our own version with our group. We had 2 very happily married couples come out of it! haha

Thanksgiving was enjoyable. It wasn’t quite the same because we didn’t have the Macy’s Day Parade, football, or naps, but it was still a good time.