Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is an American thing. And yes, it is a somewhat twisted idea to celebrate the genocide of the Native Americans year after year (illegal immigration conversation, anyone?) with a meal that is supposed to represent one story tale day in history when colonists supposedly put down their weapons and smallpox-infested blankets for a little while to eat in peace with the people whose land they had stolen, but now this day has come to mean something else. It is a break from work, a break from school, and a holiday to spend with loved ones and family, giving thanks for what we have.

I do like Thanksgiving. We have no big traditions in my house, and Thanksgiving is just a small affair normally--just close family, never more than 10 people, sometimes only four--but it is something we look forward to. It is another family meal where we can sit down together, talk, laugh, and remember how lucky we are to have what we have.

Sometimes, the years when it is just the four of us--parents and children, no one else--are my favorite. My mom, my sister, and I will gather together in the kitchen around noon and start the preparations for the meal. We always break up our tasks so that someone is working on this side dish while someone else is working on something else, and we laugh and talk while my dad sits close by in the family room, working and occasionally helping us out when we call for him. The one thing we always know we're having? Rosemary chicken.

My mom will buy two small Cornish hens and marinate them in nuoc mam, pepper, garlic powder, and chopped rosemary. Then she'll make this stuffing from sticky rice (com nep), with corn, shitake mushrooms, and Chinese sausage (lap xuong). It is delicious. The blending of American and Oriental cooking works for us, and we have repeated it year after year.

There are always sides that my sister and I make, which have included a raw cranberry and orange relish that was featured during last year's meal, a sage and cornbread baked stuffing that we've repeated several times, a butternut squash and apple soup, a curried pumpkin soup, and the vegetable tart I just posted about.

Most years, Thanksgiving also includes pecan pie. Sometimes we try to change it up, but more often than not, we end up coming back to it. It's hard to resist the urge to be creative and maybe jazz up an old favorite, but the original is a good classic, and it needs no edits.

I can't wait to see what the final menu will be for this year, after tasks have been divided and grocery shopping has been done. I will be coming back to you with a full report. For now though, I am on my way home, back to the comfort of the familiar streets where I grew up.

No comments:

Post a Comment