By Penny Colman
WeNews guest author
Sunday, November 21, 2010
On Thanksgiving, the typical turkey dinner comes with an array of ethnic additions. In this delicious excerpt from her 2008 book, "Thanksgiving, the True Story," Penny Colman surveys everything from Greek pastitsio and Puerto Rican roast pig to Lithuania headcheese and Chinese fried rice.
(WOMENSENEWS)--Although many immigrants and their descendants embraced the traditional Thanksgiving foods, many of them included--and still do--their own ethnic variations.
Voula Parliaros, an elementary schoolteacher, said that her mother spends several days before
Thanksgiving making traditional Greek dishes--pastitsio and spanakopita--along with the traditional Thanksgiving foods.
Another teacher described how her family celebrates their Italian heritage by making a feast of antipasti and lasagna "with a turkey on the side that no one eats."
On my survey, I asked people to list foods on their Thanksgiving menu that are tied to their cultural identity.
Jan Kristo identified herself as "Lithuanian (Full Blood)." She wrote that "We had headcheese for Thanksgiving--a huge gray loaf substance with pig's feet and knuckles mixed with gelatin. Sounds gross, but I still like it!" Their Thanksgiving meal also included horseradish and herring and "potato fudge" and ausukes. According to Jan, potato fudge "has a bottom layer of potatoes and confectionery sugar and a top layer of deep, dark bitter chocolate--so you have the taste of bitter and sweet." Ausukes are a "fried dough--we called them 'pig's ears'--in the shape of a bow covered with confectionery sugar, so when you bite into it you either inhale all the sugar and go into a coughing fit or the sugar all goes down the front of you in a blizzard! Eating those successfully was a talent!"
Sorren Varney grew up in Puerto Rico and she and her friends and family ate turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, turnips, green beans, cranberries, pumpkin, pie, and pecan pie--plus arroz e gandules (rice and pigeon peas) and pig cooked on a spit.
Evie Small Hohler is Jewish, and along with the traditional Thanksgiving meal, her family eats chicken livers, herring, and lox with crackers as an appetizer. During her childhood, Diana Chen's Chinese American family added fried rice, egg rolls, and hot and sour soup to their traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Judith V. Quinn grew up in a Hungarian American family that added stuffed cabbage to the menu.
Kevin Abanilla wrote that he is Filipino, and his family eats pancit molo, a soup with wonton wrappers stuffed with a filling at Thanksgiving.
In Hawaii, cooking turkeys in an imu, a large pit oven, is a Thanksgiving tradition. Kiawe wood is used to heat lava rocks that are covered with banana tree stumps. The hot rocks and stumps create steam to cook the turkeys, which are wrapped in foil and placed on the stumps. The turkeys are covered with banana and ti leaves to create more steam and flavor. Next comes a layer of burlap bags and canvas tarps. Finally the imu is covered with a large plastic sheet that is sealed tight around the edges by dirt. As a fund-raising activity, schools and community groups build large imus and cook Thanksgiving turkeys.
By Juhie Bhatia
By Melinda Tuhus
By Stevens and Johnson
By Aparna Pallavi