Gobble, Gobble: A Bit of Supplemental History With All The Trimmings

jewish turkeyThe Yenta is spending a highly “traditional” Thanksgiving holiday in Scottsdale, AZ with all members of the immediate family — including the Bubbe, who we roll in from the nursing home every day so she can bask in the glow created by sparks of toys banged together by shrieking great-grandchildren.

My parents, so happy to have not only my whole mishpotech but my Brother-the-Surgeon in town, cooked a sumptuous, all-American meal straight outta Betty Crocker —complete with marshmallow-encrusted yams and cranberry sauce from scratch. (This was, in fact, the first time I have ever known my mother to cook anything at all since the microwave was invented.)

We’re not anywhere near halachic-grade Jews (although no pig has ever set foot, ear or chop near this kitchen) and even though our haimesh relatives moved back to Jerusalem last summer, my folks have gotten used to ordering a kosher turkey. The Surgeon got carving duties, natch. When I commented on the precision cut of the breast, he shrugged and said “same as a mastectomy.” I ate dark meat.

Anyway, I find it interesting that our Jewish family, the oldest one of us a Polish immigrant, knows how to follow the traditions and foods of this American holiday as well (and better than, in some cases) as our Jewish ones. After all — Christian pilgrims swapping maize recipes with the natives? — not so much our history.

Maybe it depends on whose version of history you’re reading: The first Jew to come to America, a Czech metallurgist in service to Britain, arrived here in 1585 and kicked early settlements into gear by discovering how to smelt copper. And those pilgrims? It’s been posited that the first American settlers were actually Jews.

Maybe it’s a stretch, but as an American Jew, it’s important to know that American history is American Jewish history, no matter what those intelligent design people want to teach your kids in school.

And whether you’re eating bird or serving up a nice vegetarian curry, most everyone has a long weekend off. Here’s to enjoying time with the people you love.

*Photo of Jewish poultry farmer plucking a turkey for market circa 1940 c/o Library of Congress.

One thought on “Gobble, Gobble: A Bit of Supplemental History With All The Trimmings

  1. In 1598 the first real Thanksgiving was held on the north bank of the Rio Grande(which later becaming the boundary between Texas and Mexico)approx 17 miles east of present day EL Paso, TX.
    Spanish Conquistador Juan De Oranta and approx 80 Spainards (men and women) with several Native Americans of Mexican Tribes arrived at the south bank of the Rio Grande late afternoon, after a brutal trek thru the Chihauhauian Desert. They camped on the south bank that night, next morning crossed the river. Ornate and the Catholic Priest order the Indian guides to hunt for food. At that time there was alot of wild game in this area. They had a Thanksgiving Supper to thank G-d for finding water and food. They camped for several days then presided to follow the Rio Grande to near present day Santa Fe, New Mexico. Where they established a colony. All though many WASPs will argue, but this is the truth. And let it be known that the first foreign language spoken in the continental US was Spanish, NOT English.
    Michael A. Gold
    Proud to be an A**hole from El Paso

    Betcha Kinky didn’t even know this. VOTE FOR THE KINKSTER, COWBOY UP AN’ RIDEM’ JEWBOY

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