Thanksgiving food varies based on cultural traditions

Matthew Braccio said his family recipe for gnocchi is time-consuming, but easier with help from friends.

Photo by courtesy of Matthew Braccio

Matthew Braccio said his family recipe for gnocchi is time-consuming, but easier with help from friends.

Every Monday Amelle Aldurra, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, gets lunch with her brother Anthony, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. This Monday, their weekly tradition consisted of finishing their Thanksgiving leftovers.

For many students, Thanksgiving break means enjoying a series of home-cooked meals, warmly welcomed after months of residence hall food and takeout.

Amelle returned from Thanksgiving break with enough leftovers to last her the week, until she can go grocery shopping again.

Amelle spent Thanksgiving Day at her uncle’s, eating and catching up with her cousins. Her family had a celebration at their house Friday, gathering with family friends from church.

“The leftovers that I actually brought back are from Friday, because my mom cooked so much food,” Aldurra said. “It’s … a lot of meat, pork and beef and some rice. And I’m Middle Eastern, so we had a lot of Middle Eastern dishes, and so I brought back some stuffed grape leaves and some meat pies.”

Like Amelle, Matthew Braccio, a senior in the College of Engineering, celebrated Thanksgiving with special dishes specific to his family’s culture and brought back leftovers.

Over the holiday, Braccio’s Italian family made gnocchi, a sort of potato dumpling. He returned with pre-made meals to fill his freezer.

Braccio’s family makes gnocchi twice a year, once before Thanksgiving and Christmas, and once before Easter. Braccio said the large recipe requires many people, and his whole family gathers for an entire day whenever his grandmother decides it is time to make the semi-annual family recipe. The family always makes enough gnocchi to fill their freezers year-round.

Braccio brings back the gnocchi in Ziploc bags of individual servings. Once boiled, the dumplings are fresh and ready to eat. He also brought homemade sauce and meatballs to complete an easy meal.

Braccio shared his special family dish with his roommates.

“I’ve had cooking sessions with my roommates and all that, showing them the recipe and how to make them,” Braccio said. “It’s a fun time, but it is a recipe where you do want to have like a family or a few roommates around to help cook with because it takes a while to make all the dough.”

Kal Reske, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, came back after break with pumpkin pie and cheesy potatoes. For Reske’s family, Thanksgiving leftovers are an important part of the holiday. On the day after Thanksgiving, her family has a tradition of inviting friends over to share leftovers.

Tradition also plays a part in the creation of holiday food. Reske said different members of her family have different assignments for which foods to bring.

“For us, the kids all make dessert, but the rule is we have to use our family recipe,” Reske said. “My pumpkin pie is my great-great-grandma’s, and my apple pie is my grandpa’s.”

Reske said she expected the family-recipe pumpkin pie she brought back to last her one day.

“The pie will be breakfast, lunch and dinner,” she said.