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November 10, 2011

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Food and fun on Thanksgiving Day

THANKSGIVING Day is fast approaching, and to many Americans this means spending the day with family, overeating and watching football.

It's a day traditionally for families to get together for a special meal and give thanks for what they have.

John Isacs, Shanghai Daily's American wine columnist, says he always thinks of food when Thanksgiving is mentioned.

"For me, Thanksgiving Day is wonderful aromas of food filling the house before the meal, which makes you even more hungry. The quantity of food makes you so full that it's hard to move after the meal finishes," Isacs says.

A Thanksgiving Day feast in not completed without a turkey. The bird is usually stuffed with bread crumbs, which soak up juice from the turkey as it cooks. The turkey needs to be basted frequently to keep the meat moist. It's considered done when it' a little crispy on the outside and tender and juicy inside.

After the meal is completed, breaking the turkey's wishbone is a festival tradition still maintained in some families. Two people each take one end of the bone, make a wish and pull. It is said that whoever ends up with the larger part of the wishbone will get their wish.

Other popular dishes served for the holiday include cornbread, pone bread, mashed potatoes, rich-flavored dumplings, cranberry sauce and sweet pumpkin pie.

There are many recipes for cornbread. Some taste sweet since sugar or molasses is added to the dough. It can look more like a muffin or feature a stick shape.

Corn pone is a kind of eggless cornbread that is usually flat and baked in an iron pan with butter or margarine. It has a nice golden color, sweet taste and dense texture.

Wu Zhili, a Chinese student now studying in the US, says apple cider is a popular beverage at Thanksgiving because it tastes refreshing and apples had recently been harvested.

The first Thanksgiving Day can be traced back about 400 years, when some European pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to make better lives for themselves in the New World. The sea journey was difficult as it was their first winter in the new land and many died.

Native Americans taught them to grow crops such as corn, beans and pumpkins. After the next harvest, the pilgrims invited the Indians to a feast to show their gratitude.

It later became known as Thanksgiving Day and has become one of the most important annual holidays in the US and Canada.

While Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November, Canadians celebrate it on the second Monday in October.


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