Día de las Gracias

Traditional tastes merge on Thanksgiving

Yes, it's true. Once, a very, very long time ago, I got married to a good ol' boy from Kentucky. His mama spoke with a thick accent and his daddy talked like Archie Bunker. When Randy's father first met me, he turned to his son and genuinely asked, "Where in the hell is she from?" Thoughts of bringing little baby rednecks into the world quickly ran through my head.

Eventually I became the apple of his daddy's eye, and his mother taught me to make a mean biscuits and gravy. Although no little rednecks came to be.

My first Thanksgiving as the new Mrs. Hamilton was exciting. My mother, father, grandmother, sister, brothers and even some cousins were all coming over. With a long shopping list in hand, off I went. I hit every specialty store, butcher, market, bakery, you name it. This was my first Thanksgiving and I was going to make my mother proud, for she had taught me well.

The table was set in my best new-bride's dinnerware, table settings, tablecloth and flowers. My large Mexican family filled most of the extended table. Poor Randy, unable to communicate in Spanish, tried to make small talk with his new in-laws.

Now came my turn to shine. Far from being a future chef, I put out an impressive and lavish Thanksgiving spread. The accolades freely flowed from my family as they passed the food around. "Just like mom's," my father proudly said.

As I looked over to my new husband, I noticed a confused and sad look. He gently leaned over and asked, "Where are the cranberries?"

"Cranberry, what is that?" I innocently replied.

You see, when the Salcido family ate turkey, our menu consisted of something like this: chipotle and honey glazed turkey with a roasted jalapeño and corn stuffing, habanero gravy, green rice with cilantro and mint, green beans with onion, garlic, serrano peppers and scrambled egg, chile de arbol salsa and, for dessert, flan and capirotada.

Interracial Thanksgiving can be a real culinary treat. I think of it as the best of both worlds. Remember, Mexico never had chicken until the Europeans brought the bird to America. The national bird was indeed turkey. Mole was traditionally eaten with turkey instead of chicken.

I no longer have my extended family from Kentucky. However, I now know what cranberries are. In fact, we include them in every Thanksgiving meal the Salcido family enjoys together -- cranberry salsa made with hot serrano peppers, onions, cilantro and lime juice.

Maybe if I had known about them before, I would still be married. (I doubt it!)

Silvana Salcido Esparza is a local chef and restaurant owner.

 
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