This was my American Thanksgiving. The dishes on the table tell the story of who and how we’ve come to be.
The turkey has that Chinese soy sauce flavor many Chinese-Americans families prepare their turkey with some variation of. I’ve heard of endless permutations of turkey adapted to different cultures, such as Jamaican Jerk turkey and Lebanese turkey.
We’re Taiwanese-American, and the seafood fried noodles (made with imported Taiwanese noodles), Taiwanese style potato salad (but made with potato salad from Ralph’s with the eggs, apples, and sweet Japanese mayo added to it to save time), and picked hot peppers reflect that.
Also included in that heritage are the dishes that were imported to Taiwan through its colonial and post-colonial history. The sashimi, burdock root, and edamame are a constant presence at meals. The Lion’s Head meatballs and stewed oxtail, with some Taiwanese touches, reflect the dishes of my family from Zhenjiang, where we were from before we became Taiwanese, fleeing at the close of the Chinese Civil War to Taiwan midcentury.
More traditional American side dishes fully adopted are the string bean casserole, the gravy, and a pasta salad along with Kona Brewing Company beer.
For dessert, we had a sponge cake made with mango pudding and taro and drank coffee and tea.
I was inspired to write about this from the NYTime’s amazing feature, aptly named “The American Thanksgiving” showing the dishes and all the roads they travelled to get here, remixed for this holiday. I especially loved the pieces on the Hmong family integrating their traditions around respecting animals they prepare for the holiday, the Italian American family with the double-turkey feature, the rediscovered Norwegian Cake, Jamaican jerk turkey, the cheesy Irish potatoes, and the Soul Food pork neck macaroni. Okay really, I want to eat it all.
In fact, one of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving is trawl through my Facebook and Instagram feeds and seeing what my friends are eating. I salivate at the pictures of turkey surrounded by food from the world over, combined in ways to celebrate this holiday.