One of the things that shocked me going through the “Oma Archives” was how many recipes I found for turkey. Growing up Oma’s turkey was the gold standard!!! A beautiful bird, cut with a loud buzzing electric carving knife by my Uncle Andy and devoured by a crowd. Until I found all the cuttings I could imagine a time when Oma couldn’t cook turkey.
Then I realized, Thanksgiving, and Turkey in particular are a uniquely American tradition. American ovens are BUILT so they are large enough to have a Turkey. Ovens that I’ve seen in Israel and England are often considerably smaller.
In Germany Oma said her family once tried to raise Turkeys in Herschaid because they had heard that they were good eating. She said that their turkeys were too stupid to live. They would sit out in the rain with their mouths open until they drowned.
Finding the cuttings made me think of Oma as a new immigrant, someone with very little family in America, even less family she would want to sit down to dinner with (certainly not the aunt and uncle that thought Oma and Opa would be their maid and chauffeur!). The aspiring American home maker pitted against a freakishly large bird.
This Thanksgiving I celebrated her winning that battle, learning to cook the turkey and make the tradition as seamless as anyone else’s. Dad reminded me that Oma’s thanksgiving remained uniquely German too. Alongside the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce were traditional German red cabbage and cucumber salad and her Rosh Hashana Apple Cake (test recipes still under development).
So to we’re working on making Thanksgiving our own way. After 8 years of hosting it we have our own favorite recipes, Sous Vide Turkey, Grilled Brussels Sprouts, Apple Cranberry Stuffing and Turkey soup. Going to the Cornell Hockey Game Saturday night and (usually) watching our team loose.
And fortunately things come full circle. This is how my six year old has always known our Thanksgiving traditions. When I told him I was writing a blog post about “before Oma knew about Thanksgiving” he was SHOCKED. His jaw dropped. He as the either the typical child or the consummate American, he finds it difficult to understand there are places that don’t celebrate our holiday the exact same way. Frankly I’m a little pleased, I wouldn’t have it any other way.