How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The truly all-American Thanksgiving (kebab, anyone?)

Photo by Taekwonweirdo/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A "Chinese American turkey" stuffed with sticky rice, red chili pepper, water chestnuts, Taiwanese sausage and other goodness, November 2010

In their quest to assimilate, generations of immigrants from non-turkey-eating parts of the world have eaten or at least tried to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. But I'm going to let you in on a secret some may find tantamount to treason, or at least a deportable offense: Many of us don't care for it all that much.

Now, there are those who know how to do turkey. Immigrants from southern Mexico, for example, part of the bird's native stomping ground, serve it seasoned with chile and smothered in mole, a preparation that some Oaxacan restaurants in Los Angeles make for Thanksgiving take-out orders.

But the mild tasting American-style roasted bird traditionally served in the U.S. doesn't go over so well with everyone who encounters it as a newcomer. The solution? Claim it. Make it our own. Or if that fails, don't mind the turkey and eat something else, like a nice kebab.