By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Creating content around Thanksgiving for an Pan-Asian newspaper is unexpectedly difficult. After all, there’s only so many times we can run the same old, “How to bring add Asian flair to your Thanksgiving dinner!” story.
However, there are some folks who have brought some freshness to an old schtick.
Boston chef Joanne Chang wrote an article in Food and Wine about how Thanksgiving was conceived in her family and how it was evolved.
“As Taiwanese immigrants, my parents did their best to habituate me and my brother to American customs—we were ghoulish on Halloween, prematurely romantic on Valentine’s Day and, hopefully, suitably festive at Christmas, bringing sugar cookies to neighborhood potlucks and such. But for Thanksgiving, the closest we got to roasting “a nice big turkey” was making Peking duck … “
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, an Ann Arbor resident and writer, also wrote a mini-memoir about her past Thanksgiving.
“When I was growing up, my mother always felt she ought to cook American food on Thanksgiving in order to celebrate it properly. She did not know how to roast a big turkey, so she would buy a little frozen turkey meatloaf instead, and make mashed potatoes and gravy from a box (we did not know there was any other way), and salad (which we never ate otherwise). It was terrible.”
Writer and journalist Olivia Wu mulled over the fact that the first Thanksgiving was a fusion of cultures … and extends to that to what it might mean today. Her piece includes recipes.
“My own Thanksgiving customs have continued to evolve ever since I arrived from Thailand more than 30 years ago. At first, I shared the meal with fellow students from overseas. Like the 1621 meal, it was a smorgasbord of dishes — duck, geese and seafood, along with remembered dishes from faraway shores. All were made with fusions of locally-grown ingredients and spices hand-carried from homes abroad. The food triggered intense memories of other places.”
Read her well-researched story. (It’s a whopper, ten pages!)
On her blog/massively cool website, Korean American Jeannie Cho Lee adds her own two-cents on the melding of cultures.
“I am planning my menu for Thanksgiving this week and it includes my now-classic repertoire of a 24 pound turkey with spicy kimchi stuffing. Yes, I have taken a very American holiday meal and given it a uniquely Asian twist. I have been making and refining this stuffing for about 15 years now and each year I change the recipe, just for the sake of continual improvement.”
And if we must post recipes on how to “Asianify” Thanksgiving, let it come from famed chef Ming Tsai.
“We’re taking our turkey on the road to Florida this year. Unbeknownst to my brother-in-law, I’m having a deep-fryer sent to his house so we can cook the turkey in the backyard.”
And here are past stories/articles from Northwest Asian Weekly about T-Day. Enjoy!