The Melding of Cultures on Thanksgiving

By: Béatrice Peltre

When planning the same holiday year after year, how do you keep your celebration fresh and interesting while maintaining a sense of tradition? We asked our favorite bloggers and food people to share what's inspiring their Thanksgiving planning this year. From ancestor's recipes and falling leaves, to beautiful piles of ingredients and thoughtful home decor, there was no shortage of imagination. See what motivates some of the most creative minds we know, and then start planning your annual feast.

I first discovered the traditions surrounding Thanksgiving when I moved from France to the United States fifteen years ago. I had come to teach at an American university, and my friend Margaret invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family. I still remember how cozy and warm the holiday felt to me; how the food – though different – was similar to some of the dishes my family ate while I was growing up.

I come from a rural area in Northeastern France where in these months, we grow plenty of winter squash ( red kuri squash being a favorite), as well as apples, pears and root vegetables like celeriac and parsnips. Our cooking is filled with walnuts, chestnuts and mushrooms. To me, these foods are reminiscent of France in the fall.

Amazingly, where I currently live in New England, autumn is similar: the trees are magnificently colorful, apple picking abounds and we’re surrounded by beauty. These elements – and lingering memories of rural France – inspire my cooking.

Over the years, we've often attended Thanksgiving at friends’ houses, but this year, I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner with my husband's Irish family. And I sure am excited.

While some of our foods will follow tradition, I’ll be adding my unique twist. We'll start with small appetizer verrines that will showcase layers of ricotta mousse and squash purée with greens and nuts. A kabocha squash and apple soup with spices will follow. I will prepare a red cabbage, celeriac and apple salad, and will bake a potato, celeriac and butternut squash gratin with turkey and stuffing. And for dessert, we'll most likely indulge in something with chocolate and fruit, like chocolate and pear clafoutis. My menu will be a hybrid of my French roots and my American home – simple, delicious foods that speaks to our varied backgrounds.

We will be thankful to be sharing this special moment together, combining our French, Irish and American cultures. I hope you all have a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving, too.

For more Thanksgiving ideas, visit our Thanksgiving Inspiration Board Gallery.

Béatrice Peltre is the food writer, stylist and photographer behind the award-winning blog La Tartine Gourmande, wherein she tells stories about her life and food, illustrated by recipes and photographs. She is the author of the book La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life (Shambhala Inc.), currently on pre sale. Béatrice was born and raised in rural France, from which she draws her love for locally homegrown produce and nature.

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