Reflections on Several Different Turkey Days

Our national holiday to give thanks (maybe we should do it more than once a year), is celebrated all across our country (and where Americans live worldwide).  With my turkey hangover in full force this morning, I wanted to write about a few difference experiences from this year, and in the past.

Some years ago, a friend in Guangzhou, China, an ABC (American born Chinese) opened an “American style restaurant” locally, and wanted to have a traditional Thanksgiving menu available for locals and expats alike.

It was an interesting day.  All of the usual dishes were present, but she neglected to give the cook/server instructions on how the dishes would be presented to the table.  So they prepared it “Chinese” style, much as they would a Peking Duck for example.  We watched as the server struggled with a huge heavy platter neared the table.

He presented the turkey.  Cleavered into small pieces, sliced thru, bone and all, with chopsticks all around!   It was a great way to celebrate the best of the west and east so far from home.  Sometimes “family gatherings” can take place with a large group of people you aren’t related to.  Those memories are special to me.

The City of Duluth, Minnesota, has taken to feeding Thanksgiving Dinner to whomever needs/want it.  There are no qualifications for entry.  A local college, St. Scholastica, started this event 20 years ago for those “in need”, and it has since expanded to be, as I said, all inclusive.   Yesterday, they fed nearly 5,000 in the Duluth Arena, with food donations and volunteers for the traditional feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pie.

By all accounts of those in attendance, the food and company was excellent.  Here’s pics of both the serving lines and plates.   What a wonderful way to create and foster the concept of both “community” and “family.”  While in most cities, you can find charitable organizations and churches that do this, I find the notion of a “city – wide” effort very appealing.  I encourage you to spearhead something like this for your city next year! (more story below pix)

Free Thanksgiving Dinner, Duluth, MN

Free Thanksgiving Dinner, Duluth, MN

And finally, my own Thanksgiving, 2011. My ideal? It would be a group of friends and family, interesting, lively conversation, food that appeals on every level to every single person in attendance, ample quantities of everything, and no cooking, and no clean up.

And that’s what happened. In a warm and loving home, overlooking a picturesque lake outside of Portland, OR, we joined such a group last nite, and all that encompasses my ideal was present and accounted for.

Turkey, duck, salmon, potatoes, turkey gravy, duck gravy, green bean casserole, wild rice, breads, olives, salads, vegetables, four kinds of pie, served with bottomless cups of friendship and interesting conversations with fascinating people.

Thanks to our hosts and fellow guests. It was amazing. Even the salmon was smiling.

My best Thanksgiving ever?  My beautiful and talented daughter was about 10, and she wanted to source, plan, cook, and serve the meal all by herself.  She did, and it was fabulous.  She planned an entire day of grazing and feasting, and I was so proud of what she accomplished that day.  I still have her handwritten notes that she used to prep, buy, references to cookbooks, and so on.

I love you, child of mine.  I am thankful to be your father every single day.

Smilin' Salmon

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