Thank Squanto at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving–was a lovely holiday spent with the in-laws in Duluth outside of Atlanta, but I didn’t get to hunt as we were rained out! Bummer. however, after an aamazing southern farm-to-table lunch at JCT Kitchen, we had to stop in upstairs at Sid Mashburn’s, the best preppy style menswear shop in Atlanta and arguably the left coast (with the exception of J. Press in New Haven, maybe). I bought a lovely wool tie and gingham shirt.

My in-laws are first generation Korean-Americans, so the pre-thanksgiving meal consisted of several types of Kimchi (bok choy, cucumber, napa cabbage), stuffed prawns, and braised short ribs with chestnuts.

Because our initial union was not approved by the family, my wife and I had much to be thankful for. Our marriage earlier this year seemed to finally break the cultural barriers that kept me from getting to know her parents for the first four years of our relationship. In fact, our visit was a homecoming that saw years of tension melt away. As we sat down to the Korean feast the night before Thanksgiving, I couldn’t help but smile deeply at the miracle of the meal that was a long time coming.

Later that night, I set out to prepare the turkey–brining the 20 lb. bird in three cans of Guinness, kosher salt, water and Canadian Grade A maple syrup.

During the day, we visited the massive H-Mart, a Korean supermarket where we watched Kimchi made in bulk and had traditional street food (pancakes filled with red bean).

I forgot to take a picture of the finished bird, but here are the leftover sandwiches with my wife’s cranberry and Korean pear sauce, turkey, gravy and stuffing on rolls, yum.

Other lovely meals this holiday…

Drinks and piano music with my brother and his friend from Brazil at the Manhattan Inn, a Cinnamon Sidecar, Old Fashioned and Warsaw Mermaid (green tea vodka, sake, jasmine, creme de violette). Every time I go I order the Fried Wild Pollock sandwich…its the sea on a brioche bun.

Breakfast with the wife at Five Leaves, late of Heath Ledger, but fast becoming an institution on McCarren Park…the Big Brekkie and Merguez Scramble…

Last year we watched the NYC Marathon from Five Leaves over brunch, this year, we sat at the bar at the Manhattan Inn.

Its worth taking a moment to “thank Squanto” for Thanksgiving. Squanto was a native american of the Patuxent tribe in the Massachusetts coast. He taught the Plymouth Pilgrims how to hunt for eels and farm corn, contributing greatly to their survival. He spoke English because he had in fact been caught as a slave, nearly sold in Malaga, Spain, rescued by Friars and resolved to return to the “new world” after journeying to London where he lived for several years as a ship-builder, then joined an expedition to Newfoundland, and finally after a few attempts made it to his tribal lands. Sadly, most of his tribe and several other coastal groups died in an epidemic while he was making his way home. Amazingly, he settled with the Plymouth colonists (who were on his ancestral lands) and still–in the deepest spirit and meaning of giving–helped them to survive. The story of Squanto really is the story of Thanksgiving, its not just “thanking god” for survival, but continuing to hold love in your heart when your very survival is threatened. That’s the real lesson.

So I guess when all is sad and done, though the cultural barriers thrown up by my wife’s parents caused us years of pain–we were able to keep love in our heart, to continue to invite them into our lives at every opportunity, and love won out. Thank Squanto.

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