Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My New York Thanksgiving

While on the subject of food and culture…

In the early 1980s, a friend and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in New York City with another friend, Nitza, who is Puerto Rican. We were going to have Thanksgiving dinner with Nitza’s family in Queens and I didn’t want to go empty-handed so I decided to make pumpkin bread. My mother says that specialty breads – cranberry, rhubarb, zucchini, and, of course, pumpkin – are typically Midwestern, my geographic roots.

Early Thursday morning, we scoured every mom-and-pop grocery (bodega in New York parlance) in Brooklyn for canned pumpkin, without success. We did find fresh pumpkin, but this farm belt kid had only used canned and was mystified by pumpkin in the flesh. But my East Coast urban friends showed me how to cut and boil it into the prettiest purée I had ever seen.

We arrived at Nitza’s aunt’s house, which was packed with people, and stuffed ourselves on chicken and rice, of course. After the meal, Nitza tracked me down and said, “My grandma wants to meet you.” An elderly woman came up to me and in a flurry of Spanish, grasped my hands and kissed them. Nitza burst out laughing and said, “She likes the bread! She just blessed your hands!”

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Such a neat "slice of life" memory.


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