…but my traditions are a little different. Look, Thanksgiving is one of the more problematic holidays, but it’s also become one of my favorites. As a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of the menu: turkey is bland, mashed potatoes and gravy are fine, and I would’ve eaten my weight in pumpkin pie and whipped cream, but everything else? No, thanks. So as an adult, and adult who decided she wanted to HOST Thanksgiving after moving away from family, I moved away from all that autumnal Americana and treated it as an excuse to cook my ass off and make stuff I wouldn’t otherwise bother making. The menu became a creative exercise; the cooking, bonding and fun with my mom and others.
A key part of our tradition has become figuring out where we want to cook every year. We’ve dabbled in Mediterranean-inspired fare, done a full day of cooking and eating Japanese food, one thing after another; there’s been Indian food, soul food-inspired, and Italian. We don’t claim any deep knowledge of these cuisines, but we enjoy learning about the flavors, ingredients, and techniques–especially if they’re already vegan (or vegan-friendly). We try new things but make use of local, seasonal produce. We have an overflowing list of things to incorporate into our cooking for the next year, and recipes we shortlisted that didn’t make the final cut to try later on. But mostly, we enjoy the process–then we enjoy the food. It’s a good time.
This year, my mom and I both thought we’d like to try making tamales, which has always seemed like an intimidating project. Tamales on their own don’t make a complete meal, however, so we’d like to create a Mexican-inspired menu that isn’t comprised of the usual suspects (tacos, enchiladas, etc.). To that end, I picked up a new cookbook: Decolonize Your Diet, which takes a health-focused, culture-honoring approach to the traditional cuisine of the authors’ families.
While I’m still contemplating the menu – I think we’ll be a small group this year (though if you’re reading this and you’re in or near the Bay Area and in want of a plate of food this holiday, drop me a line) – I figured I’d take this opportunity to try at least one recipe from this super interesting cookbook. I might not make it for Thanksgiving, but it’s still trying something new, in the spirit of how I celebrate that day.
What I made was their cauliflower ceviche with homemade blue corn mini-baked tostadas. It was kind of like a cross between a salsa and a tabbouleh, served almost like a personal nacho chip with avocado (this is a terrible description, but it was tasty).
I’ve made corn tortillas many times in my handy tortilla press, and I have a stash of blue corn masa harina with which to make many more. I imagine, whatever my menu includes, I’ll have that opportunity. And I’m grateful for it.