Traveler’s nightmare: Thanksgiving in Miami

I thought I would do a special tbt today, in honour of the only time I’ve actually been in America for Thanksgiving. The holiday as a whole was amazing, but Thanksgiving, not so much. It’s easy to see why.

Thanksgiving is like Christmas. It’s a time to be with family. It is not a time to be a tourist alone looking for a restaurant that will serve you the closest thing to a traditional dinner. That is my strongest memory of Thanksgiving. The whole nightmare that was the restaurant.

But first, the positives. In November, when it would be grey and rainy and generally miserable back home in England, at least I was waking up to this view:

Miami Beach


So no complaints there.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant called Rascal House. Why? It was near, it wasn’t too expensive and most importantly, it was open.

It was also the worst experience I’ve ever had eating in America, and that includes the time we were accosted by a crazy lady wearing a wedding dress in a McDonald’s in downtown LA. True story. Who knew someone could care so much about chicken nuggets on their imaginary wedding day?

Anyway, the food was mediocre at best, and looked like it had been carefully plated from a distance of about six feet by someone with a slightly better than average pitching arm. It was the kind of food you poke at suspiciously when it comes out, making sure there are no nasty surprises underneath.

Perhaps the waitress delivering it – the one with the twitch and track marks of a seasoned heroin user – was another reason I was uncertain. In fairness, she looked like she wanted to be there less than anyone else in the room, and that’s saying something.

Waiting for my pumpkin pie (I wasn’t going to have anything else now, was I?) gave me even more opportunity to look around the room. The restaurant was actually rammed, but I’m assuming by the conversations I overheard that it was full of families who didn’t want to be with each other enough to cook and invite their relatives into their actual homes. Several arguments, a sense of seething animosity that cut through the air – it was like being in one of those hidden camera shows of the 80s, but with a stronger hint of desperation and danger.

The pumpkin pie, as it turns out, was not worth waiting for either. Forgive my British assumptions, but I thought it was meant to be sweet. And cooked.

Luckily, we could see the funny side (maybe the waitress did slip something into the gravy after all) and spent much of the meal in fits of giggles as we watched one disaster unfold after another.

The best bit of the whole day was grabbing a beer and watching the football game back at the hotel room. But it was certainly one of those once in a lifetime experiences.


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