Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 2:26 PM
Have you ever thought that, for those of us who weren't born in America, Thanksgiving could seem like a strange holiday? Not so much in terms of remembering the past and giving thanks (who wouldn’t appreciate having a day off for that reason?), but rather the specifics of how it's celebrated. Consider the components of the classic feast. You’ve got cranberry jelly - a dessert for most of the world - eaten with turkey. This bird is cooked with a concoction of celery and bread inside it. And let’s not forget a pie made out of pumpkin -- obviously intended to be consumed as a savory vegetable, if at all!
It was all more than enough to overwhelm me when I was invited to my first Thanksgiving meal in the United States a few years ago. Ambivalent about embracing the tradition, I initially tried to resist the holiday and its odd symbols altogether...until I realized that Thanksgiving could actually be unconventional and fun, if you give it your own twist. So this past weekend, my friends and I decided to celebrate an unofficial, nontraditional form of pre-Thanksgiving -- the kind you don’t have when your parents are in charge.
We had the most delicious feast, including mashed potatoes with roasted garlic herb butter (if you're interested in spicing up your potatoes, you might like this wonderful book dedicated entirely to potatoes), home-smoked turkey, and lots and lots of pies. I broke down and made a pumpkin pie for my traditionalist friends, but along with that came an apple pie and an almond pear tart.
As the culmination of our long day of cooking (that turkey took us 8 hours to smoke!) and eating, we played video games: Dance Dance Revolution, followed by Wii Sports -- just the thing to shake off our post-meal stupor. It was great, so I hope this new experiment won't make my friends averse to the real Thanksgiving (after all, some of them actually like stuffing and cranberry sauce!).
There are a million different ways that people can reinterpet Thankgiving. After all, few of us roast turkey on a spit like they did in the good old days. You might use a 2-hour speed-cooking method for preparing your turkey, or dress your boiled yams with butter and fancy spices. Times may change, but I'm glad that this holiday of giving thanks is still around to remind us -- in a delicious form -- of what we can be thankful for. I, for one, can thank Thanksgiving itself for my newest hobby: making pies.