Neighborhood Kitchens

Extending the Table

By Patricia Alvarado Nuñez

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Thankgiving Table (michaelwhitney/Flickr)

"There is no joy in eating alone."   —The Buddha, 543 B.C.

The history of Thanksgiving is about different cultures coming together. Our national holiday commemorates the First Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrim colonists and members of the Wampanoag people in Plymouth in 1621.

On Thanksgiving Day this week, in neighborhood kitchens around the country, people will come together to prepare traditional foods of the season: roasted turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and of course pumpkin pie.  But according to a published letter of Plymouth Colony leader Edward Winslow, that first meal bears little resemblance to our modern day feast. For example,food historians have shown that potatoes, a staple of today’s Thanksgiving meal, originated in South America and had not made their way into the Wampanoag or colonist diet at the time of the 1621 harvest celebration.

If you think of America as a big salad bowl, filled with many types of colorful foods, then you can see how our cultures can come together on the plate. In millions of US kitchens, the Thanksgiving menu this year will reflect a multicultural touch, such as warm arepas, fried plantains, tamales, sticky rice or pasta with freshly made tomato sauce. 

If your want to add something different to your traditional Thankgiving meal, consider one of the following recipes, shared with us from some of the chefs in New England who never cook without adding flavors from around the world:

Oleana’s Chef de Cuisine Cassie Piuma’s cacik, a delicious Turkish dish served family style.

Simply Khmer’s Sam Neang and Denise Ban’s Cambodian fried rolls…perfect to assemble and cook with the family.

Chef José Duarte of Taranta gives a New England spin to the traditional potato dish from Peru, with his Maine lobster causa.

Muqueca Chef Fatima “Fafa” Langa’s Brazilian tapioca cuscuz…an ideal ending for a fabulous meal. 

Our menus may evolve, but the Thanksgiving spirit remains the same…coming together, sharing a meal, and giving thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44

About the Author
Patricia Alvarado Nuñez Patricia Alvarado Nuñez
Patricia Alvarado Nuñez is an award-winning producer creating Latino and multicultural programming  for WGBH and La Plaza. (She cooks, too!)

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In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Find a Neigbhorhood Kitchen
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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi


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