Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Thanksgiving herring? This and other holiday treats

A basket of herring, not necessarily for Thanksgiving.
A basket of herring, not necessarily for Thanksgiving. Photo by Augapfel/Flickr (Creative Commons)

It's that time of year when we hear about what people in Los Angeles really eat on Thanksgiving. And it doesn't always involve turkey and mashed potatoes.

In an immigrant city like L.A., those celebrating the holiday Thursday will be just as likely to pass the peas and the gravy as the kebab and the mole. For those who eat turkey, there will be birds basted with butter, sure, just as there will be turkeys on tables throughout Southern California that have been stuffed with a delectable sticky rice mixture, Chinese style, rubbed with chile powder and served with chocolatey black mole Oaxacan style, or marinated in a garlic-sour orange Cuban-style mojo to make it, frankly, tastier.

And then there's this revelation from reader Michael Corey, who posted the other day on the Facebook page of KPCC's public engagement editor Ashley Alvarado: 

"There Will Be Herring….My grandma always had pickled herring and Swedish meatballs."

Because Sweden is representing here, too.

Wednesday I'll be visiting the busy kitchen of a Mexican restaurant where employees are rushing to meet the orders they get for Oaxacan-style turkeys, so expect to hear and read more this week about L.A.'s alternative Thanksgiving feasts.

In the meantime, check out these four personal Thanksgiving anecdotes from staff members who grew up in households where Thanksgiving was, beyond a day of gratitude and feasting, perhaps the one single day in the year that best highlighted their assimilation process. Here's the intro from one essay written by Kim Bui, the KPCC Social Media Editor, who wrote about the annual T-day food battle between the first and second generation:

My mom hates turkey.

She's long complained that it's dry, annoying to cook and all around not good. Every year for Thanksgiving, she would push for something tastier — duck, cornish game hens, something. And every year, my siblings and I would retaliate. We are in America, we said, we need to have cranberry sauce and dry turkey and mashed potatoes. We wanted to assimilate.

What will be on your Thanksgiving table? Feel free to provide the details here. 

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