By Grant Playter
When someone mentions Thanksgiving, certain images tend to come to mind: a family gathering, a giant turkey and maybe even some Thursday night football. But America is the “great melting pot” of cultures and peoples, so believing its practices to be so uniform is not necessarily correct.
Gabe Salazar, a freshman journalism major at the College, wasn’t born in the states —he was born in the Philippines. His family moved to the U.S. in 2003, when Salazar was six, and although it’s been quite some time, his family still enjoys infusing their Filipino roots in their everyday lives.
Salazar’s family enjoys a variety of Filipino food at the table. Noodles are not considered a traditional Thanksgiving dish, but in Salazar’s family, Pancit, a dish composed or rice noodles, chicken and various vegetables, is something they consider a staple. Similarly, they frequently eat Lumpia, pastries similar to egg rolls that come from Southwest Asia.
The difference isn’t only in the food they eat. Salazar felt a sort of strangeness with Thanksgiving in its entirety.
“Being in a Filipino household, you were taught to be thankful every day, but here in America it’s different — there’s a day dedicated to giving thanks. It’s kinda like culture shock, but in a good way,” Salzar said.
The family of Paola Mendez, a sophomore economics major at the College, is from the Dominican Republic. As such, on top of everything else, they add Spanish fusion to their dishes.
“We have turkey like everyone else,” Mendez said. “But not the same sides.”
Along with the main course of turkey, there is an additional dish: pernil, a type of pork leg cut. As for the sides, there is the “Moro de Habichuela Roja,” a Dominican dish that is a cooked mixture of rice and red beans. There is also pastelon, which is similar to shephard’s pie except instead of mashed potatoes sweet plantains are used in their stead, along with the meat and cheese.
In Brazil, there is obviously no Thanksgiving, so Joao Paulo Ferreira, a civil engineering major who is studying at the College for the fall semester, is having his first experiences with the holiday. When asked to compare it to the celebrations he had in Brazil, he said they were very similar, but there were some differences.
“Thanksgiving’s pretty cool,” said Ferreira. “I liked the food, I really like all the family—we talked a lot. Compared to celebrations in Brazil, however, America is more quiet. It’s more loud there, with lots of singing and energy.”
Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with as much diversity as they live their lives. Maybe potatoes is the cuisine of choice, and maybe practically everyone is going to at least try and get a turkey for their celebration, but everyone can add their own touches to Thanksgiving to make it their own. In a way, it’s retaining one’s cultural heritage while also proudly partaking in America’s holiday pastimes.