Grappa, Old Ladies, and Pies…

is what Thanksgiving Day 2013 was all about!

The grappa life for me

Love in the afternoon

Growing up in my family, I remember my mom doing her best as a new American to learn the customs of America, and learning how to celebrate Thanksgiving was one lesson she made assorted attempts at getting down.   The act of turkey-basting and pumpkin pie-making for the non-American Korean is nothing short of going through the motions of a Martian culture.

Electric knife vs. Turkey

Have electric knife will turkey

Firstly, those supermarket turkeys weighed almost what I did and the fact that we were required to roast one in the oven for half a day was not normal.  I couldn’t help but get indoctrinated early (with the NYC public school system to the right and my assimilation-minded family to the left, what else?), buying into the Turkey Myth complete with the first Indian and Pilgrim potluck, not to mention the tradition of shoving Stove Top stuffing into the ginormous cavern of the turkey’s crotchal area.

The best way to make cranberry sauce

The best cranberry sauce

My best food memories are of my mother’s Korean cooking and her occasional lasagna and bologna sandwiches, but I can easily muster nostalgia for her effort to fashion a Thanksgiving dinner so we could feel more authentically American.

Don't call it a yam

Don’t call me a yam

Sure the turkey usually came out like it had been roasted over hot coals in Hades and the cranberry “sauce” log indented with grooves of the can was an indictment, not an exemplar, of American industry, but that didn’t keep our table from capturing the immigrant’s interpretation of American life.

It's all in the wrist

It’s all in the wrist

With exception of the sweet potato, the Thanksgiving dinner was an exotic experience for us.  When did we ever eat cranberries and pumpkin pie?  Not. Ever.

Roll out the dough

Roll out the dough

A turkey and stuffing (plus fixings) was to this immigrant what 40 acres and a mule was to the Black Americans during the years of Reconstruction and beyond.  I clung to the myth of Turkey like my life would be forfeit if I did not.

Lighter than air

Lighter than air

So here we are at the crossroads of the imperialist propaganda machine and making up a relevant tradition of our own.  And since we have a choice, let’s make it a tradition that understands pies encapsulate Thanks & Giving, especially if you are making your own crust.

Easy does it

Easy does it

Pie-making is a tradition that keeps all the good parts of the old while bringing in the best of the new.

I am thankful for my Old Lady

I am thankful for my Old Lady

                 Did I mention I baked two pies this weekend?  Yes, I did.

Not to mention the chocolate pecan pie

Not to mention the chocolate pecan pie

You could cry or die or just make pies all day…

–Patty Griffin, “Making Pies”

Love in the afternoon



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