This Thanksgiving, I ate at my grandparents' house in New Jersey. What was special about this meal is that it didn't have all of the trappings of a normal thanksgiving meal. Our thanksgiving mixed ethnic dishes with the traditional thanksgiving fare. The meal was kosher fleyshik, meaning it was a meat meal (since turkey is counted as meat) and so no dairy products could be used as ingredients in any of the dishes, in addition to normal laws of kashrut (no pork being the most famous, etc.).
The normal Thanksgiving dishes were there for the most part, though those were not exactly the highlights of the meal. There was a distressing lack of stuffing and gravy, which was problematic because the turkey was fairly dry (though there was a decent cranberry sauce). The mashed sweet potatoes made with bits of pineapple and topped with gelatin-free marshmallows were good, but a little bit too sweet. The freshly baked multi-grain rolls were great, as they were hot and had a nice full, but not overwhelming, flavor.
The Jewish components of the meal were the stand outs. A pareve (no dairy or meat ingredients) pea soup with barley was the first thing served, and in addition to being tasty, it wasn't too watery or too stew-like. At the table we also had potato knishes, which at our table were mashed potatoes inside round dough sacks; when hot, they went quite well with mustard (though eventually they became cold and fairly tasteless given the lack of seasonings inside). The salad course consisted of Israeli salad, which is essentially diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions with creamy tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds and other flavors (lemon juice, salt), used as a dressing. The highlight of the afternoon, undoubtedly, had to be my Savta's (grandmother's) braised brisket. The night before, my friends parents were kind enough to let me try some of their brisket, which had just finished smoking and was very hot and very good. However, the one during the meal blew that one out of the water. The smell of it was enough to make me forget about everything else on the table. The taste, the juices, and the tenderness of the slices all combined to form an amazing meat dish. Overall, what the traditional meal lacked in taste the ethnic foods more than made up for.Tweet