Marshmallow woman

When you think of Thanksgiving, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me it’s a can of jellied cranberry, which I thought was the best cranberry sauce in the world. It is when I moved to the northeastern U.S. that I suddenly started thinking twice about it, and eventually got more snobby with my cranberry sauce, choosing more natural interpretations that could be traced back to the actual fruit. What I finally realized was that what I had been serving with turkey all those years, was a far cry from the deep burgundy sauce prepared in kitchens all over the country with sugar, water, spices and of course cranberries.

In the Dominican Republic, unless you’re somehow linked to the U.S.(have family here, have studied here, have an American spouse, etc), Thanksgiving is not a popular holiday. In my home though, the celebration was welcome every year. Mom instituted the tradition after celebrating it herself with her own family. Although the stories were always nebulous, I gathered that her father, my grandfather, had lived in Puerto Rico and had himself adopted the tradition.

Decades later, my kitchen in Santo Domingo buzzed whenever Turkey day would come along. My aunt Tiita took over one of the counters, mixing her secret “Russian” potato salad adding a little of this and a little of that until it was just perfect. Mom pulled out the glistening golden turkey for one last baste. Plantain pasteles filled with shredded chicken boiled in a huge pot. Piping hot rice with kidney beans (moro) was scooped into a huge bowl, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows toasted in the oven.

The table was set. The feast was underway. I had the task of slicing the cranberry “sauce”. I loved the feel of my knife going through the shiny jelly shaped like its can. I loved how each ring was equal to the next and I took pride in lining them up, each one resting on the next. Then families and friends who had gathered on the terrace enjoying the (hopefully) cooler breezes of November and laughing and drinking would gather round the table. My Mom would give thanks, her spirit as bright as her blond bob. We would dig into the spread of American and Dominican dishes, and forget that these moments existed only for that day.

In our minds, they would always come again, they would last forever.

One Response to Marshmallow woman

  1. Very true. The home is the new going out.

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