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Grampie and NanaToday’s traditional Thanksgiving meal was, untraditionally, last night, and not particularly traditional in the way most people consider the annual holiday gorging. Green mussels in a sauce of rice wine, onions, garlic and tomatoes, served on a bed of white rice alongside deliciously leafy Chinese broccoli. No turkey, no cranberry sauce, no mashed potatoes, no gravy, no four kinds of vegetables, and no casseroles.

We did have homemade apple pie for dessert, which was scrumptious.

Last year the traditional family feast involved going out to a Venezuelan restaurant for empanadas and arepa washed down with caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. In the past I recall Thanksgiving repasts consisting of lobster, crab, clams, mussels, and red wine on the rocks. These days the meal is likely to include some form of noodles, or like today, dumplings.

It wasn’t always this way. Growing up we had the usual turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, mashed turnip (somehow most things ended up mashed), peas, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, and whatever showed up with the horde of visiting relatives. The requisite apple pie was joined by at least three others, notably blueberry, squash (and/or pumpkin), lemon meringue, lime meringue (that was mine), rhubarb, and mincemeat. To this day I have no idea what a mincemeat pie tastes like because there was no way I was going to eat something for dessert with a name that sounded like leftover meatloaf, especially with so many other choices readily available. Like the main and side dishes, any number of dessert varieties would show up depending on who was joining the meal that particular year, which usually was held at Nana’s house.

Sometimes I miss the traditional, though more for the family camaraderie than the actual menu. But I’m perfectly happy with the more adventurous Thanksgiving options like tonight’s pineapple fried rice, spicy Italian sausage, mashed pumpkin, and a bountiful Malbec wine.

And homemade apple pie for dessert, of course.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

© David J. Kent 2014

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

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