Celebrate Your Cultural Beginnings

Nov 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

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Thanksgiving is days away! Did you know that many cultures have their own version of Thanksgiving?

Every agrarian (or former agrarian) culture has some rendition of the celebration of the harvest, an important seasonal marker throughout the world. The county fairs popular throughout the United States have their roots in the ancient European post-harvest markets that still occur today. The Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate the Autumn Moon Festival in mid or late September (naturally, the dates are set each year by the phases of the moon), a time when farmers can relax after the harvest ends. Fall trees are planted, mooncakes are consumed under the bright glow of their namesake, lovers unite, and paper lanterns illuminate the streets at night. Koreans have Chusok – also known as Korean Thanksgiving, which apart from the food served (the traditional food being not roast turkey but rice cakes steamed over pine needles) is remarkably similar in spirit to the American version. The Jewish Holiday Sukkot not only celebrates the harvest but serves as a remembrance of the ancient Jews who wandered the Middle East living in huts (sukkahs) on their way to the Holy Land. During the weeklong holiday, families take their meals in makeshift sukkahs under the stars. The vernal equinox, the day in late September when the periods of light and dark are of equal length, is a special day for Buddhists, for whom it symbolizes the equality of all things.

American Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the beginnings of the nation, but it’s also a time to be thankful for the bounty nature brings forth for our sustenance and enjoyment, to pay homage to the gradual passage from fall to winter. Marking the transition in some way is an important part of being an active member of humanity, as you’re presented with an opportunity to reach out to family and friends and to be grateful for what nature has bestowed upon us. It is also, perhaps most importantly, a time to share, to open our hearts, to be generous as well as thankful for the generosity of others.

Many American families are incorporating dishes from their respective cultures into their Thanksgiving meal. Here’s a Northern Italian-inspired recipe from Rosanna’s family for your Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Roasted Vegetables

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Serves 6

1/4 cup (60 ml) plus two tablespoons (20 g) extra-virgin olive oil

1 sprig fresh rosemary, stemmed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon (6 g) sea salt

1 pound (474 g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed

8 carrots, cut into 1.5 inch (4 cm) lengths

3 red bell peppers, quartered, seeds and membranes removed

3 green bell peppers, quartered, seeds and membranes removed

6 small yellow onions, peeled and cut into quarters

Preheat the oven to 325°F (163C) (Gas mark 3).

In a large roasting pan, combine the oil, rosemary, garlic, and salt. Put the remaining ingredients in the pan and toss to coat the vegetables with the oil. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until soft and caramelized.

Arrange on a large oval tray and serve.