This time last year, I was blazing through seasonal dishes as part of my Thanksgiving test kitchen. Old issues of Bon Appetit were unearthed and scoured, calls went out across the country for treasured family recipes, and method after method of preparing turkey was contemplated and discarded. The aim was two-fold: find a truly thirty minute Thanksgiving dinner, and decide what to make for my own–decidedly more elaborate–first Thanksgiving with my now husband.
In 2010, the scope and menu will be decidedly different. A slew of recent travels have put the kibosh on a visit to my east coast friends and family to celebrate the day. So I decided that if I can’t go to my people, I will at least recreate the kind of day we would share. In my youth, Thanksgiving was the time my parents, sister, and I would fly out to see our east coast family, so my memories of Thanksgiving are filled with the warmth, kitsch, and traditions of my grandmother and aunts’ houses. During the day, we would snack on meat and cheese platters while watching movies both old and seasonal and recent and kid-friendly.
So this year, while my own family is hundreds or thousands of miles away, I will carve out a new Thanksgiving with my husband’s family that mixes my treasured memories with new tastes and preferences. I have set him on movie duty, invited my sister-in-law and new cousins to spend the day, and assembled pumpkin spice candles, cornucopias, and the appropriate Thanksgiving kitsch to artfully strew about the tables and bookcases.
The food, however, will be both a return and a new path. I have made Indian food for Thanksgiving in many years past, but this year I want to find a way to make Indian food that is specific to Thanksgiving. Of course there is no such thing, but there is a tradition of only–or at least primarily–eating certain foods only for a specific holiday. Diwali, the joyously illuminated Indian new year, took place last weekend and everyone rushed to pick up sugar-syrup soaked jalebi, gulab jamun, and other Diwali treats for their celebrations. What does an Indian-American family “traditionally” serve at their Thanksgiving celebration?
If you happen to be one such family, I would love to hear your traditions! In the meantime, I’ll be looking for turkey biryani and sweet potato curry recipes.