Thanksgiving......With A Twist
Thanksgiving is a beloved celebration day. Of all the holidays during the calendar year,
it holds a special place in the American heart.
Not only is it the official start of the Holiday Season, it is also a
wonderful four days off of work, with a healthy dose of family time, amazing
food and a general attitude of gratitude.
Thanksgiving doesn’t leave anyone out. It is the most inclusive
celebration we have, allowing everyone in America to celebrate regardless of
background or beliefs. When Americans
find themselves abroad, either for a short stint or an extended stay, when
Thanksgiving comes around, they make a point of celebrating. They even invite
their new friends in the host country, and proudly serve the full celebratory
menu. It’s a cultural touchstone.
It would seem that altering the traditional
American Thanksgiving meal in any way would be a no-no, especially for
Americans living abroad. But what if
these slight alterations made the feast better?
And what if Americans at home added a few nontraditional ingredients to
their Thanksgiving table as a tribute to a world without borders? America is a melting pot after all, so what
better way to demonstrate this than to inject a little flexibility into the
Thanksgiving menu? A “turkeyless”
Thanksgiving might be too much to ask at the outset, but what about working
with some of the sides? That might be
the best place to start, with minimal uproar from traditionally minded guests!
While the chefs are in the kitchen finishing up
the main Thanksgiving feast, as guests arrive, it’s the perfect time to
introduce some nontraditional appetizers or snacks. How about serving some exotic cheeses from
around the world, (think Manchego and Camembert), spicy Indonesian cashews, or
Italian salami? Those would be simply
divine on their own or on a cracker or baguette. For a twist on the traditional cocktail, how
about adding some all-natural botanical mixers for rum, gin, or vodka? For the martini lover, stuffed olives from
Spain are sure to be a hit. Guests will
be surprised by the bursts of flavor and international flair.
When incorporating new and interesting
ingredients to the main spread, make sure to keep some of the traditional
elements. Remember, you don’t want
mutiny before the turkey is carved!
There is always a wide range of vegetable options at the Thanksgiving
table. How about adding Mexican cheese
to cauliflower? That will give it depth
of flavor that is hard to achieve with this healthy but generally bland
vegetable. How about mixing in some
garlic and truffle oil to the mashed potatoes?
Or even a bit of mustard flavored with rosemary and honey? Mashed
potatoes (and sweet potatoes for that matter), offer a blank canvas for
adventurous cooks. Who could forget
cranberry sauce? Instead of opening a
can and sliding it into a bowl, (complete with the tin ridge impressions on the
outside!), how about adding some French and Spanish gourmet preserves to the
sweet selections? Cranberry doesn’t have
to be the only option.
The star of the table, the roast turkey,
doesn’t have to be eliminated or drastically altered, but a few complementary
protein options might be welcome. Some
Spanish Iberico ham offers the melt-in-your-mouth flavor profile that is in
stark contrast to the traditional taste of poultry. A duck foie gras can also add silky
smoothness to the Thanksgiving bite, holding up well against any flavor
competitor. Imagine a combined bite of
turkey, foie gras, Iberico ham, and stuffing all at once! That is one amazing international bite. We can’t forget the salad. Instead of the traditional oil and vinegar,
surprise your guests with flavored vinegars from Europe and the finest Spanish
olive oil in existence. Your romaine
will never be the same!
So as you can see, if you keep an open mind,
you can give your Thanksgiving meal a twist and start some new traditions. Perhaps just incorporate one or two
suggestions at first. Don’t overwhelm
your guests with an entirely new menu at once – unless you think they will be
open to that. Even though you may be met initially with resistance, once
tasted, these new, bright flavors will convert even the most rigid Thanksgiving
purist. You don’t even have to warn
them, you can just do it and see how it goes.
After the Thanksgiving meal, and before
everyone takes a nap, it’s nice to reflect on what the celebration means. The opportunity to share a special meal,
spend quality time with those we love and do so in a comfortable setting. These are all things to be truly grateful
for. Food is to be enjoyed and
savored. Loved ones are to be cherished.
Home is where the heart is. When you add international elements to the
traditional table, it only adds to the celebration. So this Thanksgiving, dare to try something
new. Boldly give your Thanksgiving meal
a twist and then bask in the universal appreciation of your guests.