BY Eileen Z. Fuentes
Many people have asked me “what are YOU eating for Thanksgiving”? I get jokes all the time about tofurky, mushy greens, bland desserts, and zero alcohol. Unexpectedly, the truth is that I will be enjoying most of the same foods as everyone else! It’s Thanksgiving and I will be taking part in all the pleasures that the holiday brings because for me personally it is really about gratitude, family, and delicious home-cooked food. I just got off the phone with my mother-in-law and here’s what’s on the potluck menu: fresh turkey from el vivero, rice, beans, lasagna, empanadas, avocadoes, salad, wine, and fresh-baked desserts. My favorite part of the meal is the pasteles, a Latin-American dish made of root vegetables, plantains, meat, peppers, onions and herbs. I always get special treatment as she prepares a batch for me made with yucca, no pork, more vegetables and olive oil instead of corn oil. After the ingredients are prepared in just the right order, wrapped in wax paper, and tied with string resembling a little gift, they are frozen and then boiled for consumption with or without ketchup…Yum-O!!! There is really nothing better than this!
But the Thanksgiving preparations don’t begin that morning. Actually it starts long before. My mother is known for her delicious sazon, a marinade/food base that consists of various peppers, onions, tons of garlic, herbs and spices. So one could imagine how she gears up for this big event. Now that I have the pricey but really effective vitamix blender, doing this has become significantly easier especially since she insists on cutting up the ingredients into small chunks. The last time she made it, I documented her hard at work, then put together my own version with additions like turmeric, black pepper and tamari and omissions like powdered seasoning and iodized salt. She uses sazon to make moro, beans, soup, stews, sauce, meat, seafood…almost everything. She pours the potent mixture into all the plastic containers she could find, prepares some for sending to family and friends in other states and then stores the rest in the freezer to keep it from going stale. The good and bad news about this powerful concoction is that the house will smell like this for the next few days. It is a powerful reminder of the healing activity taking place in my body!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat like this on most days but there is nothing wrong with letting go and stepping back into the past at least for a day. Eating like this can evoke good memories and positive feelings. The reality is that families no longer eat together and so if nothing else, Thanksgiving is a time when families near and far get to do that. So eat, drink and be merry because you only live once! The food you are eating is filled with the loving energy and hard work of those who prepared it for you. If you’re worried about weight gain, just work at it during the next few lazy days that follow or dance the night away and keep the good vibes going.