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Afghanistan and the USA

10 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 23 November 2011

Owen Bennett Jones introduces personal stories, insights and wit from BBC correspondents around the world. In this edition, Mike Thomson reflects on how jealously Kabul guards its privacy, as well as its security, while Jason Palmer invites us to a traditional rural Thanksgiving with his family in Georgia.

Walls within walls

The decade since 9/11 has meant huge changes for Kabul, the Afghan capital: the end of the Taliban, the influx of foreign money, the gradual slide back to insecurity and violence. It's not the same as it once was - and it's certainly not the same as most other cities.

Mike Thomson has just been there, and explains why it can be a strange place to work for a foreigner - and just how far you have to go to get to know this city's hidden charms.

Cornbread and cane syrup to be grateful for

Early in the 1600s a tradition began of an annual meal – a feast – with these sorts of ingredients: cod, eels, clams, lobster, ducks, geese, swans, venison, pumpkin, maize and squash.

Where was this bounty eaten? America. It was called Thanksgiving. And it still is - although while the holiday started out as a deeply-felt commemoration, some people today feel it's really just an excuse for a gigantic meal and a glut of televised sport.

But for Jason Palmer, it’s still a day of rich, longstanding family ritual - and a time when he reconnects with the gathering and preparation of precious, local food.


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