Thursday, November 17, 2016
When I lived in Japan (many years ago), the times I felt most homesick were around the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving. The fourth Thursday in November isn't special in Japan in any way. It's just another day at the office. If you're an English teacher (as I was), Thanksgiving was constantly on your mind as you were asked to explain the event to all of your classes. While I enjoyed sharing about the holiday with my students, my heart was heavy by the end of the day.
Once bright spot of living overseas during holidays was gathering with other expats to share a special meal. I have very fond memories of going to large potlucks where each guest brought something to share. Finding the turkey required a lot of research, train rides to specialty stores, and an insane amount of Yen! But these times reminded me of the essential meaning of Thanksgiving: Sharing and Thankfulness.
As I make my holiday pies this year, I will watch lots of familiar movies on Amazon and Netflix. It's a tradition I think many cooks have, to play something warm and comforting as you prepare food. I've picked two movies that I think encapsulate what Thanksgiving is all about. They are warm, genuine, and a whole lot of fun!
Pieces Of April (2003):
Before Katie Holmes was Tom Cruise's wife, she was an actress mostly known for the teen melodrama Dawson's Creek. That all changed in 2003, when she starred in this heartfelt movie about a splintered mother-daughter relationship. I loved her edgy performance as a young woman trying to make Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. Everything goes wrong! With each disaster, various neighbors help her though. All the while, her parents are driving towards her apartment and, little by little, the backstory of what is happening is revealed.
How to see it: Stream it on Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play for $2.99
What's Cooking (2000):
This movie is the epitome of what America is all about. Four families living in Los Angeles prepare for Thanksgiving, each in their own way. Each groups is from a different ethnic background, and the movie bounces between stories as we see how each family customizes this American holiday, making it their own. I recognized my own Mexican family in this film. In addition to making turkey and mashed potatoes, we would always include "grandma's rice" (Mexican rice) with the meal. One year my cousin was dating an Italian guy and her brought over lasagna. he said it wasn't Thanksgiving without it. I love how the stories intertwine in this movie. It's a celebration of food, family, and what it means to be an American.
How To see it: Stream it on Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play for $2.99