Mixed-up Ethnic Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving may be a uniquely American holiday but the people in my world love to mix up the holiday menu. I know a lot about mixed-up ethnic holiday fare coming from a Southern, African-American, Native-Creole-Chinese-Caribbean family. We always include items and ingredients to honor the legacy of the colorful people coming to dinner. Ours is a true melting pot!

I was trained by my elders to cook using a variety of traditional methods. Some examples are ‘add a handful of this and a pinch of that’ and the ‘by eye and nose or pay constant attention to what you doing’ methods. Years ago, I published “Cooking Your Way – MTA Employee Cookbook,” a sold-out, edition of over 800 recipes from New York City’s most diverse workforce in the nation. And, I am still searching for ways to mix it up in the kitchen.

My holiday menu for this year is still in the works. I will find inspiration from farmer’s markets, friends, relatives, memories and dreams.

My Persian friends turned me on to their version of Thanksgiving: “Mehregan, a Persian version of Thanksgiving, is an ancient Iranian holiday that celebrates the fall season and harvest. In New York City, Cafe Nadery in Greenwich Village kicked off its first Mehregan celebration recently with a literary and culinary arts festival. Highlights included storytelling, a pomegranate-peeling contest, readings, music and delicious food. The themes were memory and food.” Click here for the full story.

My Native American, Creek-Cherokee friend shared her Thanksgiving: “Since Thanksgiving has such a complicated history for my people, I think it was especially important for my family to integrate our traditions into this holiday,” she said. “We do that in several ways. We pray in our own Native languages at the table and also host a Stomp Dance the night before.” Click here for the full story.

How do you mix it up for Thanksgiving?