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Italian American Thanksgiving: The Best of Both Worlds!

I grew up with Thanksgiving traditions just like every other American kid. You could also say I ate traditional meals on Thanksgiving – not sure if you noticed, but I said meals, plural.

I wasn’t really allowed in the kitchen in those days. My mom ruled that part of the empire and only allowed others who she knew would be helpful, my aunts or grandmother. Or others who she could order to be helpful, My sisters.

We would start with some sort of broth or soup. Wedding soup is in my memory because I was a picky eater and remember eating around the escarole to get to the meatballs and broth which had such an incredible flavor!

Antipasto would come out next. Thanks to the fact that Italian restaurants  and delis are now on every block it seems, you can probably visualize, in detail, exactly what we were enjoying. Salumi, cheeses, roasted peppers, artichokes…well you get the picture.

Then came the pasta course. Ninety percent of the time it was lasagna. I say 90% because I have some memories of other stuffed pastas such as manicotti and cannelloni, which by the way we will be bringing to my sister’s house this Thanksgiving.

Now you understand why I started by saying MEALS. One down and one to go.

Out came the turkey and its obligatory side dishes: stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce from a can. And if that wasn’t enough, a baked ham.

After a short break to breathe, stretch and clean off the table it was time for dessert and fruit. We stayed American for the most part, pumpkin, apple ,and coconut custard pies. The Italian part that was added in was the mixed nuts and this is a very Italian thing – fruit.

Looking back, I’m sure it wasn’t my mother’s favorite meal to make or eat for that matter, but she was thankful to be able to spend hours at the table with family and as the Italian proverb states:

‘A tavola non s’invecchia’: ‘At the table, one does not grow old.’ A magical saying if ever there was one.

From our family to yours…..Happy Thanksgiving!