Most people associate Thanksgiving with turkey, stuffing, gravy and warm childhood memories. I, on the other hand, have only truly celebrated Thanksgiving—at least in the traditional sense—for the last five years so it doesn't evoke the same feelings for me. I am still adjusting to its flavors and vibes, building those classic American memories I hope to associate with the holiday maybe 20 years from now.
In the interim, Thanksgiving for me is somewhat of a hybrid between my Mexican traditions and the American traditions I have picked up since we left Mexico. It is a "Mexican Thanksgiving" perfectly manifested in the delicious Latin American-inspired Thanksgiving menu that Chef Richard Sandoval of Toro Toro has in store for tomorrow's dinner and of which I got a sneak peek a few weeks back. From his unabashed use of pomegranate seeds (an ingredient common to Mexican holiday dishes) to his creative incorporation of Oaxaca cheese and chipotle in mashed potatoes and turkey, Chef Sandoval's 2016 Thanksgiving menu perfectly represents what I associate with the holiday at this stage in my life. It bridges the flavors of my past as a niña in Mexico City with those of my future as an American woman.
Motivated by nostalgia brought upon by the menu's nod to Mexico, I decided to unearth my diary today and read the entry describing my very first Thanksgiving—a harrowing experience which makes me appreciate what amazing and "normal" food I have access to nowadays. I have copied my dairy entry word for word (spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, annoying abbreviations and all) for your reading pleasure below, followed by photos of Chef Sandoval's exquisite spread. But, before I let you peek into my 14-year-old mind and indulge in food porn, I would like to give thanks for all of the blessings I have in my life, including but not limited to you and your support for this blog and the fact that my writing and spelling abilities have vastly improved in the last 15 years. Happy Thanksgiving, Miami!
"Thursday, November 22, 2001
It's the 3rd Thursday of November and there is no school! Since we are from Mexico, we celebrate Thanksgiving differently, however my sister Carla (8 yrs. old) ended up baking a pumpkin pie. I've been working on an essay 4 ww (writing workshop) all day, that is until my sisters let out Nugget, a hamster they brought home from school, to play with. Apart from the cute lil' hamster, they also brought home Creeps. At first I thought Creeps would be a lil' lizard, but when I saw the contents of the cage, I refused to let my sisters even step in the car with it. So neway, they ended up bringin the disgusting TARANTULA home yesterday w/the hamster.
After playing with the hamster a lil', my mom called my sisters n me to the kitchen. N eww! 2 but we found... As we stood near the kitchen sink, there was a strong smell of something decaying, as if Creeps had been dying (which we found later to be true), but the smell of Creeps' decay was not even as strong as the smell coming from the 'thing' my mom was holding in her hands. She announced joyously that what she was holding was going to be for lunch and that the 'thing' she was holding was... honeycomb tripe, in other words: COW STOMACH.
@ that moment both my sisters and me went back to what we were doing b4, and that was the first time me and Carla had ever been scared of food in our lives. The minutes seemed to go by very slowly and my stomach was making noises, yet I didn't want to try the food my mom claimed one of her favorites. Neway I told my mom I had a stomachache so I wouldn't have to eat, but she just gave me 'polvitos' (a Mexican homeopathic digestive aid) and went back to finishing lunch.
At the table, there was delicious soup (pasta) to be followed by that huge piece of stomach. When it was time 4 the tripe to come 2 the table, I used my stomach technique, but failed. I had no choice. I was going to have to eat it. Lucy, my other sister, ate the first piece. My mom had cut the white looking bag of muscles into lil' pieces that only have one word 2 describe them: DISGUSTING. She cooked it of course and put tomato sauce all over the pieces, but when I took my first piece (which was very chewy) I almost threw up, yet I didn't show that on the outside.
I chewed on it 4 a couple seconds, then I tried swallowing it whole since I couldn't stand the taste any longer. 2nd piece...swallow....stuck...chew...chew...eww...little pieces now so I could swallow the piece whole since it was softer and smaller. I still hesitated to eat the 3rd piece, but my parents gave me the 'you have to eat it look' so I stuffed in my mouth and followed the same procedure like in the other
threetwo pieces. To this moment the TRIPE! still gurgles in my stomach.
Until next time,