I always had the crazy idea that if I’ll ever have kids, I would want them to grow celebrating every holiday of the world. Holidays are, in most cultures, a reason for families to gather, to spend some quality time together, usually around a table filled with great typical food. And so holidays are just a good, simple and even funny way to learn more about other cultures, about the world.
Of course it’s not just that, holidays shouldn’t be just a consumerist celebration of wealth, we should learn the deepest meaning of them and their origins, even all the stories around them and why certain foods are better than other to celebrate these special occasions. But no matter what, a holiday, somehow, gives you a pretty good overview of a country and the customs and traditions of its people. For that to happen though, one year of celebration at our own place is not enough. Ideally, we should travel the world and immerse ourselves in the holidays of each country and take the best out of them. Unfortunately travelling is not for free and not many of us would be able to afford such a thing. But there is something we can do in the meantime. We can read, we can share, we can try and cook some of the traditional recipes of other countries and make ourselves used to live in a constantly changing world, always moving, no longer the same. And we can start appreciating the best of other cultures instead of being concentrated on what’s wrong with them. There is always something to learn, always something to like.
As for me, two years ago I started with one of the most popular holidays ever. Thanksgiving.
As a lover of autumn and its colors and seasonal fruits and vegetables, I always felt like something was missing during this season. A holiday maybe. Even though we all know that Thanksgiving was originally a day to thank God for the blessing of the harvest, it evolved in a secular holiday (declared a national holiday by President Lincoln) in Canada and USA in which, as I said previously, families and friends gather around a table full of typical dishes. We all know about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, but I want to tell you that I felt like a child on Christmas morning when on the fourth thursday of my first November across the ocean, I found myself in front of the tv watching those huge balloons parading and singing musical themes with the artists, with all those lyrics sounding so familiar. It was just magic.
As for the food we all know about the turkey, we all know about the stuffing which I learned being often actually aside in a casserole instead of inside (as it was supposed to be). We all know about cranberry sauce and apple pies. However in my first year in the US, I still had a lot to know about their traditions and being a foodie and a chef’s daughter, of course the dinner was of huge interest for me. I tried a cranberry sauce which was actually more like jell-o, I tried something that everybody at my table seemed to love, sweet potato and marshmallows casserole, that seemed weird to my palate and definitely too sweet for a side dish, I tried one of the most delicious dessert of my life, aunt Laura’s pumpkin-cheesecake pie. At the end of the dinner I even broke the wishbone (which I found out to be actually an ancient Romans’ tradition) with no luck.
Altogether it was a great way to experience US culture and to learn something more about it. With a look at the positive things, I truly think we all have something to be grateful for and we should be celebrating it everyday.
I want to leave you with a wish of a Happy Thanksgiving to those who are going to celebrate it and to those who are not, and I want to share with you the recipe of the starter of my first Thanksgiving. Just in case you need some ispiration, it’s an Autumn classic!
1 kg Pumpkin
200 gr Potatoes
1 lt Vegetable broth
80 gr White Onions
60 gr Extra Virgin Olive Oil
HOW TO MAKE IT
To make the pumpkin cream start by cleaning the pumpkin, cut it into slices and remove both the outer husk and the seeds, then cut it into cubes. Peel the potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Peel the onion, chop finely, put it in a pan with oil and let it cook on low heat. Once the onion has changed color add the pumpkin and potatoes. Also add some of the broth to cover the vegetables, the rest will be added later. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 25-30 minutes, adding more broth from time to time. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove from the heat and blend it all with an immersion blender until you get a smooth and homogeneous cream. Then add saffron and nutmeg, mix well and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve warm with some crumbled pistachios on top. Your pumpkin cream is now ready!