Day of the Turkey

Thanksgiving is a very specific American celebration (though there exists a Canadian variation at another date, and one could consider other European harvests fests like the Octoberfest in Bavaria as similar in origin if one was a historic pedantic, which of course I am ).

There are many academic angles to look at this party. There is the Thanksgiving myth, the rather more nasty historic reality of colonialism and the interaction with indigenous people, and the present day cultural phenomena of a family get together that is getting a big wack this year due to the pandemic. All of those are, at least in part, American in origin.

So why then does a Dutch girl force her family to each year to eat Turkey, not at Christmas, but late November?

First of all I am part of a family of expats, who have lived in the USA among other places. Not just once, but twice. My mother learned some pretty good Kansas recipes in the early sixties, before introducing young me to 1974 Houston culinary delights such as chili, BBQ and Turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce. It delights me to continue these cooking habits. Food, and the history of recipes, is an underestimate social history act that we can continue to keep alive.

I studied North American studies as part of my history studies (doctoraal history was so different from Ba/Ma), and so there is a lot I picked up then too, and made my own. I just like that being reflected in my food choices and habits. It is a little fan habit, just like enjoying English food on other occassions.

There is something nice too, even in an atheist household, to asking everybody to reflect with gratitude on the year past. It is something I hope my children eventually see the value of (right now they hate it, its just Mum being difficult again ). I ask each of them to specifically state what they are grateful for before digging into the food.

So yes, this year I will be making the Kansas Turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, and for good measure might attempt pumpkin pie. We will remember in gratitude that nobody in my family has yet succumbed to COVID. Celebrate the fact that all adults in the room, including two kids, decided to volunteer to become poll volunteers for our national election because following the US elections made us aware one needs to cherish democracy and never take it for granted. And enjoy much good food.

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