Thanksgiving is one of my beloved American Holidays! Beyond gratitude and great food, it has been a time for me to truly experience the charming multiculturalism so prevalent, and welcomed in the United States. Since immigrating to American nearly 23 years ago, my Thanksgiving celebrations have evolved into a true melting pot of fusion cuisine. For years we gave thanks with a customary Turkey feast, complete with traditional trimmings, and a super Russian twist.
Carefully balancing traditions, my mom was the queen of incorporating her signature recipes for Salad Olivier, Vinaigrette,‘Shuba’, and Deviled eggs topped with a generous dollop of red caviar into our Thanksgiving dinners. Serving them alongside home-made mashed potatoes (albeit sans gravy) and roasted Turkey stuffed with sweet dried apricots and apples.
Most years, she even made my favorite childhood cake, called Napoleon, for dessert – never skimping on real custard cream and eight layers of paper-thin dough. And so, our Holidays came to be known as the Russian-style Thanksgiving, with more and more of my non-Russian friends joining in.
Four years ago, during my brief stint as a grad student and researcher in the Netherlands, I was a proud hostess of three consecutive Thanksgiving celebrations for my international friends and colleagues.
It was only appropriate since my small one-room apartment stood directly across the cobble-stone street from thePieterskerk: a famous Dutch church best known as the last dwelling of the Pilgrim Fathers before they sailed the Mayflower to the New World.
This was my time to shine as a patriotic American while demonstrating my skills with Russian cooking. Frankly speaking, the small country of cheese and wooden shoes proved much friendlier in terms of readily available ingredients for my Russian dishes, than for the traditional turkey. Suffice it to say, we gave thanks with a few well roasted chickens. Everyone loved the blending of cultures, traditions and cuisines and often asked me to replicate the “Russian-style Thanksgiving” as a random Friday night dinner. What they really wanted to know though, were my Russian recipe secrets.
Here are a few menu ideas that I shared with my friends, and am happy to share with you to make your Russian-style Thanksgiving a HUGE success!