Thursday, November 23, 2023

Sticking With the Traditional

After spending the past two months pondering over my Polish roots, the thought occurred to me: what are the traditional Polish foods that I've been missing out on? After all, most "hyphenated" Americans still talk about the comfort foods of their childhood. All the Italian-Americans I've known since growing up in my neighborhood wax rapturous about their grandmother's top-secret recipes. The same seemed to go for any of the other neighbors from recent immigrant status. My family? Not a peep about favorite foods from their childhood. Of course not; they were flying under the radar, trying to look like traditional Americans.

So for my childhood, despite having an undercover Polish-American father who loved to cook, events like Thanksgiving were, well, traditional. Taking great care to prepare a delectable turkey dinner, my parents included the dressing, the gravy, the cranberry sauce, the mashed potatoes, the candied yams much like I suspect all our neighbors did on that same day.

This year, after delving deeper into my Polish roots, I began wondering just how a Polish-American might put a twist on the traditional meal, so I took a look online for suggestions. There were indeed others whose musings on the same topic translated into interesting recipes. One online source provided some "Polish-inspired ideas" for a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Another writer who actually is Polish, but married an American, was inspired to introduce her relatives back home in Szczecin, Poland, to the American custom—then thought of fifteen different recipes which would "Polish" the traditional Thanksgiving fare.

Though the photos accompanying such articles make me hungry to try them, as for this most traditional of American holidays, I think I'll remain close to the same recipes I've repeated year after year. These, too, have become a tradition of their own as we re-invent them to suit our own purposes and taste buds.

No matter which way you choose to celebrate this day of giving thanks, I hope you enjoy it with loved ones who bestow meaning to the season for you—and in remembrance of those whose choices have brought you to where you are today. Whether we ever learn their full story or whether they kept the secret to themselves until the end, they are part of what makes us what we are.

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