Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Made in America

This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper.

This year for Thanksgiving we're going to try to serve foods that originally came from the Americas. Not as any kind of political statement, but as a reminder of how many of our foods came from America. For example turkey, that's fine since the wild turkey is a native North American bird. So what else should be include?

Potatoes. Potatoes originally came from the Andes, down around the area of Peru. They spread out from there and in the last four hundred years or so, have spread around the world. Now mashed potatoes are a common fare on many Thanksgiving tables, so I'll be able to have them on mine. I realize that the dairy typically included in mashed potatoes isn't really native to the Americas, but hey a person can only go so far. Though I am planning to have roasted potatoes available as an option.

What about sweet potatoes? Once again, sweet potatoes are fine, since they origin of sweet potatoes is believed to be Central America. However do take note that a sweet potato and a yam are not the same, and yams originated in Africa and Asia, so I'm going to be careful to get sweet potatoes.

Everybody knows about corn, right? Corn is a famous American crop. So since wheat is not and American crop, I'll have corn bread instead of dinner rolls. Now some with knowledge of how corn bread is made may point out that wheat flour is an ingredient in corn bread. Well, I say to you, purists out there, have corn tortillas if you want, me, I'm going to have corn bread.

Which of course can serve well as the basis for stuffing. Though I'm going to jazz it up a bit with some peppers, which are again an American crop, and perhaps some chorizo. Which might be pushing things a little, since pigs are native, though there are pig like animals in the Americas (peccaries and javelinas, OK javelinas are peccaries, but I wanted to use both, sounds like more right?).

So I'm doing well so far. I can thicken my gravy with cornstarch. And for some color I can use tomatoes and tomatillos. It sometimes seems so bizarre that something so associated with Italian cuisine like tomatoes is only been included in their cooking for the past few hundred years, but tomatoes are American.
Oh and cranberries. Yep, There are native American varieties, so cranberry sauce is on the table. So there won't need to be any riots on account of leaving out the cranberries.

So what about dessert? Apples and many of our fruits like cherries and blackberries are European. Ouch. But we do still get to use pumpkins, though the origin is a bit hazy, the consensus (I got from researching on the Internet) is they originally came from the Americas. So pumpkin pie is in. (No, I'm not going to plan on some weird crust, again you purists can tell me what you used instead of wheat.) And of course chocolate. Chocolate pie is on the menu this year. Chocolate is an American native too.

Of course we can have our nuts, pecans and cashews are natives. So if pecan pie is one you enjoy, there's another option.

So, here's the kicker. What about wine? The wine grape came over from Europe, so that should be discouraged. But there are some native grapes out there. Though only one is easy to find in wine form. The Concord. I guess that's just one of the sacrifices that have to be made.

Happy Thanksgiving. (Though I found myself almost writing Happy Thinksgiving, That sounds like a great idea for a holiday.) And thanks to the Americas for giving us, and the rest of the world, such a great menu.

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