During Thanksgiving, many families stick to the same foods and traditions year after year. In my household we keep those same traditions with a twist of Dominican culture. In general Thanksgiving is not an official holiday for us, just as our lifestyles are blended in this country so are our holidays. Every year a group of my family visits from the Dominican Republic to spend time, celebrate and maybe do some shopping. When it comes to the dinner, we still make some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes with a twist of Latin flavor and some Mediterranean flavors adopted by our family.
We always start off with a variety of appetizers which includes “pastelitos” baked pastries filled with cheese and meats. Then comes one of my favorites the “quipe” or “kibbeh” an Eastern Mediterranean dish which is traditionally a fried croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb. However, since we are all concerned about making healthier choices these days, my family modified the recipe and now bakes it. We still have the traditional turkey dinner, but the side dishes are personalized to our own culinary traditions. Rice is eaten regardless of the holiday, so of course it’s included in our dinner. This is followed by the “pastelon” which is almost like sweet plantain lasagna, and what we call the “niño envuelto de repollo” a mixture of ground beef and spices wrapped in cabbage. To complete the meal, we also include our regular green salads and traditional potato salad.
It is a large assortment of foods and as much as we enjoy having the meals, we have an even better time preparing them together throughout the day. We don’t only personalize the food but the way we celebrate, it’s a time to catch up with our family members who come from overseas, and be thankful that we can share this American holiday together with a twist of our culture.
Do you also have a twist on Thanksgiving? If so, we would love to hear from you!