My favorite Thanksgiving memories look nothing like the dry turkey- and cranberry sauce-filled feasts of popular depictions of the holiday. While my elementary school leaned into making students reenact the “meeting” between “pilgrims” and “Indians” (guess which side this Desi boy found himself on), my immigrant parents embraced our Indian origins with tandoori chicken and various sabjis to satisfy my family’s vegetarians.
People of color know that the reductive images of a holiday rooted in White colonists’ genocide of Indigenous peoples do not capture their own Thanksgiving celebrations. Several people shared their own traditions in an article from NPR’s The Salt yesterday (November 20).
Proud of this story that I wrote for @NPRFood on POC Thanksgivings. It was inspired by all the lovely dishes I saw last yr on my IG feed from my POC friends. So I asked 5 immigrants & 2nd gen Americans to share the dishes they were looking forward to most https://t.co/7kXe78vVGH— Malaka?Gharib (@MalakaGharib) November 20, 2018
Read these excerpts from writer Malaka Gharib’s conversations with media personalities of color:
“Thanksgiving is a time when our family cooks traditional foods that take longer, like isombe, which takes about eight hours to make. It’s not something you eat on a weeknight. Rice is always part of Thanksgiving, and a meat sauce that’s made with onions, tomatoes, beef and bay leaves. In Rwandan culture, you can’t have a meal without sauce!” —Carine Umuhumuza, Rwandan-American associate director of communications at Devex
“Some of our Thanksgiving staples: my uncle’s roast beef, which I’m looking forward to most. Sometimes my dad makes paella—it’s a Spanish dish but we make it in the Filipino style. And there’s lots of dessert. My aunt makes leche flan, and my cousin makes a cassava cake. There’s also lumpia and pancit.” —PJ Policarpio, Filipino-American co-creator of The Pilipinx American Library
- “I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving until I came to the U.S. It’s not a holiday in Mexico. When my family first celebrated Thanksgiving, we didn’t know what it was. We just saw it as time to be around our family. We didn’t have turkey but roasted chicken. And there were tamales, salsa and a drink called atole.” —Juan Diego Ramirez, Mexican-American producer of the podcast, Racist Sandwich
Check out reader-submitted stories and pictures of their own Thanksgiving dinners via #MyPOCThanksgiving.