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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

oh Lord. Here it comes: Thanksgiving.

Yes, Thanksgiving.
I remember my first one here in the United States. I was at my cousin's home in Orlando and his family had cooked their hearts out for days which resulted on a coma like state after eating for 8 hours straight. Every single dish was delicious and very traditional. I remember that first taste of sweet potato and marshmallows, piping hot, soft, sweet, slightly crunchy, it melted in my mouth and filled my soul, and even though I did not understand how that entered the "side-dish" category (it felt more like dessert to me) I loved it with a passion.
I have a lot of respect for tradition. I believe it should be guarded and loved like the oldest, most precious family member but somehow, Thanksgiving is not always so traditional at our home and I don't know why, I keep running in circles every year trying to reinvent it. I started thinking this year about the menu and about why can't I just buy the turkey, make some nice stuffing, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie... You all know the drill-why can't I just go that way? It's delicious!
Maybe it's because I need to build my own tradition. I need to find myself and my family inside that special meal that says: This is who we are. I really don't want my kids to say..."I have no stinkin' clue what my mom is gonna cook this year, maybe sweet potato gnocci, duck a l'orange, hallacas, sweet plantain mash, or maybe filet mignon with cranberry sauce or she'll just make some sushi with tempura turkey and crispy pumpkin over a banana leaf....wanna come? bring a side dish!"
For as long as he remembers, my husband knew exactly what to expect on that date. He, and his whole family, looked forward to the juiciest turkey in the planet made Cuban style. That is what his mom made every single year; consistent, perfect, delicious. I remember showing up there one time with cranberry sauce for the turkey and sweet potato mash. They all looked at me like I was completely out of my freaking mind, and kept eating black beans, yucca and mojo. Yes, I was crazy, I know it now but took me a while to realize it and say it out loud. That was their tradition and I was there to sabotage it.
But now it’s my turn, I have my own family and I desperately need to find my niche in the Thanksgiving table. I’m on a quest and I know it may take several years and I may have to send my kids to therapy but I must, must know how to bring it all together; for my family’s sake and my own inner peace. No more plan “B”, no more what if’s: there comes Thanksgiving and we know what to eat!

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