Cover of What's Cooking?
My favorite Thanksgiving movie is What’s Cooking. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you rent it, buy it or borrow it from a friend.
It celebrates the ethnic fare of four families of different backgrounds in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving Day. The movie goes much deeper than food but the food twists really interest me.
Depending on the heritage these families included rice, tamales, macaroni and cheese and all the other wonderful authentic dishes.
I am an Italian – Lithuanian American. My mom was Italian so I basically grew up with Italian food, customs and language. I never rejected my Lithuanian side but aside from a few Lithuanian customs that my dad still follows, I grew up Italian-American.
Since my mom passed away I host ALL the holidays for both friends and family. It’s not that I don’t get invited anywhere, I do – but my dad refuses to go to anyone’s house for dinner. I know he wouldn’t mind if I did but I don’t want to leave him on the holidays. After losing a parent, you realize how important family is.
I never liked turkey growing up. I couldn’t stand to look at the whole bird sitting there, dead on the table. My mom would remove any meat from the turkey and put it in a dish for me (it’s a mental thing – I know) so I didn’t have to take it from the animal centerpiece.
Stuffing inside the bird was also a no-no for me. Yuk! So Mommy made me a casserole dish full of stuffing that I guarded with my life and enjoyed thoroughly. Gravy was another taboo food if it contained giblets, neck bones, etc. Never!
When I finally moved out and started making my own turkey – that I grew to enjoy – but I couldn’t bear to touch the raw, goose-pimply, sometimes hairy bird – and forget about sticking my hand inside it to remove the bag with the gross stuff. My boyfriend, now husband, got that job.
Finally at 43 I can clean, cook and eat a turkey for Thanksgiving. My phobias have not completely disappeared but I guess I deal with them better.
I always try to keep a little Italian in my American Feast of Thanks. I prepare the usual suspects: turkey, gravy (with no gross stuff), mashed potatoes and an array of vegetables to rival the biggest celebrations.
On the last Thursday of the month we will also be feasting on…
I must say that I love the Italian fusion in my Thanksgiving dinner. Wait until Christmas!
Do you have any ethnocentric food traditions? What are they? Do tell….
© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.