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Unorthodox Thanksgiving

Family, friends and noodles

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Lo’ it is Thanksgiving time again, and if you haven’t heard by now, this is my favorite holiday. I hold this tradition of feasting near and dear to my heart. Thanksgiving is also about the gathering of family and friends. No gifts are exchanged; only gravy boats and other miscellaneous side dishes are passed to the person sitting next to you. It really is the perfect holiday.

When it comes to food, every Thanksgiving of mine has been steeped in tradition, and I like it that way. However this year my mind began to churn when working out at the YMCA. One of the employees came to me with a question. He and another employee were having a contest to find the strangest Thanksgiving food item. By the time I left, my picture was taken because apparently, I was the winner. 

My winning answer was a roasted turkey filled with Phad Thai. It must have been about five years ago when a friend brought this tasty little adventure to my house. No bells and whistles, just a roasted turkey, stuffed with a traditional Phad Thai. I am still rather boggled as to how this was accomplished.

Reflecting on this non-traditional Thanksgiving prompted me to ask my friends, “What do you have or have had in the past for Thanksgiving that is a little strange or unorthodox from the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.?” 


My third-place winner is Weekly Volcano scribe Steph DeRosa for her Pineapple Cheese Casserole. If you bake a ham, this would be a perfect side dish to the feast. My sister’s-in-law take second place for their “south of the border” Thanksgiving that includes a chili-rubbed turkey stuffed with red beans and rice. Pass the Tequila, how fabulous is that? 


And my first-place winner goes to Tacoma artist Dawn Fortner. Every three to four years her family gathers around an old hand-crank pasta machine and makes homemade pasta and sauce for the main Thanksgiving dish. 


The family gathers around a large table where the dry ingredients are poured onto the center into a monstrous mountain and a crater is formed at the peak. Eggs and other ingredients are added while her mother mixes everything gradually by hand. The dough is portioned out, and she distributes a ball to everyone, which they kneed further. The dough balls are then placed into the fridge to rest. 


After a couple of hours, each ball of dough is run numerous times through the pasta machine until it turns into a smooth thin sheet, which at times can be over 15 feet long! Then the sheet is run through the machine one last time to cut into spaghetti or fettuccini strips. Their tradition is simply called “making homemades.” 


As you see here, Thanksgiving is not just about the food. It’s about being thankful for our bounty and spending time with those we hold dear. And isn’t that the best tradition of all? 

PSYCH! It’s all about the food baby! Happy Thanksgiving Tacoma!

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