Many Asian immigrants interpret English words different, especially during holidays, when we have to pick and choose which mainstream customs we want to adopt, which customs we want to adopt but can’t, which customs we want to admire from a distance, which customs we think we understand but we doubt if we understand fully, which customs we think we are supposed to adopt but we always try to find excuses not to, which custom we adopt only to create photos to share on social media to show relatives overseas that we are more Americanized than we really are.
Here I am going to share several food items on the Thanksgiving table that have been reinterpreted by the Asian immigrant community:
Everybody loves it, but it is impossible for us to make a good one at home. I think the problem is that we don’t know how to make a good gravy.
I’ve talked about failed turkey experiments many times and here I am going to repeat it again. Everybody would want to take up this challenge at least once or twice or three times to show how Americanized one has become, but almost everybody I know, including the well acknowledged best “chef” among us, failed completely. Either the turkey is over cooked, or it is dry, or it is flavorless, or it is raw inside, or it is burned. There are so many ways to fail a turkey, and not many ways to succeed. And it ends up that we just buy a roast duck or roast chicken or a portion of roast piglet from the grocery stores.
Cranberry sauce is something that many people dislike at the first encounter, but eventually grow to love. For women, this is especially true. After learning that cranberry can fight urinary tract infection, one’s love for cranberry sauce increases quickly. Canned cranberry sauce is indispensable for the holiday season. I’ve always tried to find sugarless cranberry sauce, but I haven’t been able to find it. I even tried to make my own sugarless cranberry sauce several times.
“I just love stuffing. How to cook stuffing without cooking a turkey?” I heard this several times. Stuffing is really the most tasty part of the Thanksgiving dinner.
When I was living in Pennsylvania, I joined the adventure of picking nuts twice. When I was asked the third time, I had to decline. I am not interested in the activity of gathering one’s food. Some people may enjoy growing a vegetable garden or fishing in the ocean to acquire their food for the dinner table, but I am not motivated enough to do that.
In New Jersey, most trees don’t bear fruits for some inexplicable reasons. However in Pennsylvania, walnut, hazel nut, chestnut trees are quite common. Many people know which park or which wilderness spot has the best nut trees. And people just go there to pick up nuts and come back to roast them.
Desserts are something we have to buy from stores, like apple pie, blueberry pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie etc. However the most favored dessert is cheesecake. Many people I know are lactose intolerant, me included. However this will not stop us from eating cheesecake while swallowing lactase pills.
The problem with dumpling parties is the fact that it takes a lot of time to make the dumplings and less than twenty minutes to eat. Everybody has to participate, even those who dislike cooking. It’s an assembly line with one or two people kneading the dough, letting it sit for half an hour, then making bit-sized flour ball. The rest of the people have to cut the veggies, salt them, drain them of excess fluid, mix them with ground meat, which had to be marinated the night before. Then the whole assembly line is established and everybody has to pitch in to make dumplings.
Needless to say, I always make the ugliest dumplings and I have to pretend to be very good-natured when people ridicule the appearance of my dumplings. I think most women are like me–pretending to be very soft and yielding, only to erupt one day…
The secret to the enjoyment of dumpling party is to have one or two friends or relatives you really enjoy to be with, to banter with, or to flirt with. And I think that’s the original idea of a dumpling party, or the original idea of life itself.
I have to say there are no good food in the casinos around here. You can drive to Atlantic City, Lehigh Valley, or Connecticut to gamble, but the food would be rather disappointing. I know that in Las Vegas, there are so many good restaurants to choose from, but in the East Coast here, casinos are not connected with good food. Probably it is because of the presence of New York City–all the good restaurants are concentrated in Manhattan or Brooklyn while all the surrounding areas become neglected food wasteland.
Majhong tables can only be fully enjoyed during the holiday season because playing majhong is not a thing that can be completed in several rounds. One or two hours of playing is just not sufficient for enjoyment. Majhong playing is a commitment and a marathon. It has to be played for hours and hours, or overnight, or until one or two players falling asleep with their head smashing the majhong tiles on the table.