Holiday Food Reinterpreted

Image by Joseph Levesque from Pixabay

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:

Mashed Potato

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

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.

Dumpling Party

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.

36 thoughts on “Holiday Food Reinterpreted

  1. I’ve had that same experience with dumpling parties while living in China. Everyone pities me for my horrible dumpling making skills but I don’t mind. As long as I get to eat delicious dumplings with that black vinegar, I am happy.

    I never been Mohegun Sun or Foxwoods and I am curious to see what the food is like there. Glad to know I am not missing much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here. Same here. I mean people couldn’t stop ridiculing my poor dumpling and it was a little upsetting to my sensitive heart. LOL.

      I’ve been to Mohegan Sun, but not Foxwoods. The food was not exciting at all and the performance we attended was a little too young for my taste. I am not very musical anyway. I think I would have been better just reading a book.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Didn’t know that about mahjong. There was a craze for it when I was at uni.

    Do people eat Brussels sprouts in the US? They’re considered an essential component of a Christmas dinner here. The funny thing is that very few people actually like them – but they expect to see them on their plate. They like to make jokes about them. (I’m one of the weirdos who does like them.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They look very cute in the supermarket, but I’ve never bought it. I taste it once or twice, but I don’t have an opinion of it. It is not like cheese, ice cream, or coke cola that one can love at the first bite (or sip). I guess it takes a while for one to get into it, kind of like tofu. I guess your love for Brussels sprouts is probably due to your mother’s skills at cooking them. She cooked it well and children would love it…

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  3. Now my curiosity is piqued about Majhong. I have only ever played a solitary computer version of it. I remember reading that it was popular in the United States, in the Forties, I think but I have never actually played it or watched it. I’m headed over to Google now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the computer version of Majhong too although the real majhong game is a little different. It is a little bit like bridge (played with cards) played with little tiles but not so mathematical or analytical. It does have its mathematical side, but more chaotic. I mean even the rules are more chaotic since one has to be careful which tile one wants to throw away. Other people at the table (four players altogether) can eat or bump your tile into their pile.

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        1. So true. I heard about it. I actually heard that milk has hormones that can cause breast cancer. I don’t know if it is true or not, but I just have to stop all milk product to be on the safe side. LOL.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes, apparently there is a direct link between cancer and I think particularly breast cancer and dairy products. In fact, I heard some places have started putting cautions on the packaging to warn those buying dairy products. From what I learnt, animal products can be as bad for you as smoking cigarettes. It’s good you stopped all milk products they’re not worth the risk lol.

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        3. I heard about that too. It is rather disconcerting since ice cream or frozen yogurt taste sooooo good. LOL. I so totally agree that we should reduce animal products as much as possible. Also the consumption of so much meat by several billion people will be an unthinkable burden for the earth.

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        4. Wow, you just remind me of some ice treat I have in the fridge that I haven’t consumed yet. I bought it from Trader Joe’s and it has been two weeks. I am still having throat problems and a cough, like what you had. And I need some icy sweets…

          Liked by 1 person

        5. I really love vegan yogurt and have some in the fridge I can’t eat too because my cough isn’t going away. So annoying, it’s always when we’re sick that we crave these things we can’t eat.

          Liked by 1 person

        6. I used to love the soy yogurt (the Silk brand) but now it becomes so expensive. It’s almost like $2 for several spoonful. It is not worth it anymore. I have been thinking of making it myself. LOL. Still trying to figure it out.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. Yeah Silk is the best for vegan dairy alternatives but it’s quite expensive. It’s extremely easy to make it yourself. Buy some soy milk and add an entire green chilly pepper in it. Wait for a day or two and your yogurt will be ready.

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        8. I know. Silk is way too expensive. Really? you can really do it? I think I will try it myself. Do you need to buy a yogurt kit first? LOL. I really should try it and thanking for keeping my spirit up for my vegan effort.

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        9. Yes, Silk is the most expensive dairy alternative brand I have tried. Their quality is amazing but not worth the high price lol. Nope you don’t need anything at all. Just some soy milk and two or three spicy green peppers. Add one or two of the green peppers to the milk whole (don’t cut the peppers or your milk will become spicy) and wait for 24-48 hours. I make yogurt like this once a week and it always tastes great.

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