An Italian Thanksgiving

Growing up in an Italian-American family, I often found myself saying and doing things that I thought to be 100% normal. A lot of the time, it turned out that my friends had no idea what I was saying, referring to, or even doing. I thought everyone knew what “mangia” and “andiamo” meant. It wasn’t until I was in about the third grade that I realized I was speaking a different language every once in a while.

I also thought that everyone had a family that screamed, shouted, gambled,  swore and ate Italian food during the holidays. Also untrue. American’s don’t have homemade ravioli for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They don’t have huge bowls of pasta, meatballs and sausage on the Thanksgiving table. At least not any other family I am aware of.

I was invited to a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house and as I sat and ate, I realized that I do not eat many of the things my friends call their “holiday favorites.”  My roommate, Laura, thought I was crazy when I said I had never had pecan pie or green bean casserole. I usually go straight for the turkey and pasta at Thanksgiving. Dont’ get me wrong, we do have the typical staples such as mashed potatoes, turkey, ham and sweet potatoes, but we include our Italian staples in the mix and usually add a little Italian flair to the typical American dishes. I don’t recall ever even having stuffing on Thanksgiving and I don’t think I saw any gravy on the table this year. I just use my Grandma’s sauce for the turkey and pasta. There is this oyster dressing/stuffing on the table, but it never appealed to me so I’m not sure if that is “normal” either.

My dad’s family thinks of Thanksgiving as their “ravioli holiday” and not “turkey day.” They spend hours making the filling, and the dough. A fight usually occurs about who gets to take their own personal box home to store in the freezer. We make enough to last us through Thanksgiving and then for Christmas Dinner. They are delicious and something I definitely look forward to having twice a year.  This year my Aunt Theresa got creative and made red pepper dough and stuffed them with cheese. They might be a new favorite, but it’s nice to keep a variety. If you really want to see an untraditional Thanksgiving just spend the evening with my Dad’s family. I saw a turkey and mashed potatoes somewhere, but there wasn’t a lot of either and I don’t think any one even noticed. Everyone was too concerned with the ravioli and stuffed shells.

Here are some  photos from my Italian Thanksgiving Weekend!

I started the week off baking apple pies, apple turnovers, berry turnovers, and sweet potato casserole with my mom. I wanted to make the dough homemade, but she didn’t feel like all the fuss, so here is a shot of the apples, the pie and the turnovers! My cousin Andy also stopped by to give my dad an apple pie he had made him. Andy is a great cook and made some really tasty treats for Thanksgiving. I think he should guest blog and share some of his recipes soon!

Apple seasoned with cinnamon, vanilla extract, sugar, and lemon juice

Apple Turnovers

My Dad and Andy – Andy knows how my Dad loves all things sweet!

Sweet Potatoes

My Mom’s family has Thanksgiving lunch, not dinner so I spent all afternoon taking pictures at my mom’s parents house. Once I got to my Dad’s Thanksgiving I forgot to document dinner , but here is a glimpse into my first top on my Italian Thanksgiving!

Kristen with Matthew and Lucas – I think Lucas was afraid of my camera! I am not sure about Matthew though…

The Appetizer table

Grandpa Carving the Turkey

The Thanksgiving Feast!

All the kids eating lunch

The leftovers

So I didn’t end up making ravioli before thanksgiving due to a very fun weekend and the lack of energy to actually cook, but it’s still something I want to tackle on my own. I have become slightly ADD when it comes to my kitchen adventures and  I need to get back on track. I still have yet to make homemade pizza as well. Hopefully now that winter is officially here (we just had the first snow of the season!) I will be more inclined to stay in every once in a while instead of trying to fill my week with as many plans as possible. Until the next kitchen adventure!


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