Yes I am Mexican and Thanksgiving is a celebration popular in Canada and the USA, not in Mexico, so what am I doing writing about Thanksgiving? Well, to begin with, the concept of having at least one day to formally give Thanks, to share and enjoy family, friends and yes, Food, makes so much sense to me.
Ever since I was invited to my first Thanksgiving dinner to the home of our friends Jasper and Jackie, here in Puerto Vallarta, I fell in love with the celebration. The sense of joy, the laughter and the aromas coming out of Jasper´s kitchen sold me on the celebration.
Then, in November of 1989 it was my turn to host it for the very first time.….Since those times were the beginning of “hostess for the mostess” career, I was kind of nervous with the task ahead, so the obvious choice was to run to get the advice of the most notorious and gorgeous Food Goddess I knew: my closest friend Chacha´s mother, Amalia.
Amalia, was the one that gave me the secret to a great gravy (one that up to now I continue doing in the same way and that everybody loves), a perfectly moist and delicious turkey, a well balance stuffing and the most delicious cranberry mold I have ever tasted. That year, Thanksgiving, became a tradition within our own family.
Many thanksgiving dinners later, I find myself baking fresh “calabaza”(pumpkin)-cheese cake the day before D-Day and also a fresh corn cake- just to add something Mexican to the whole North American thing (recipe follows)- as my contribution to the dinner party that now my brother and his husband host , and I am still loving it!
Thanksgiving is a very important discipline to have. To be grateful for one´s life should be the first thing we do in the morning. In my very personal case, being able to do for a living what I love to do is a blessing by itself, to do it in the place I like to be the most: My home, is the icing on the cake.
I am grateful for the battles I fought, grateful for the lessons learned and the experience I gained. I am grateful for the successes and the failures, for the laughter and the tears. I am forever grateful for the large family I come from and the one I formed with my husband, I am grateful for the friends I share my life with and the amazing connections I have made.
And is today, here in my kitchen, where this amazing feeling of gratefulness manifests clearly in a dish typical of the celebration of Thanksgiving and becomes a deep, aromatic, delicious combination of flavors and aromas. The strong smell of cloves and cinnamon – that reminds me so much of my Grandmother – allows me to make out of the cooking with pumpkin an experience not a task, and of my kitchen, a place where two cultures can meet and coincide.
Calabaza or pumpkin is plentiful at this time of the year here in Mexico as well and for many years we have been enjoying it as a traditional dessert, so in the spirit of sharing, here you have the recipe I got from my Mother, the same she got from hers, Calabaza en Tacha, which besides being a very old and simple recipe, is without a doubt, one of fantastic depth. Enjoy it and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!
Calabaza en Tacha
3 Kgs. Pumpkin
1 kg. Piloncillo
2 sticks cinnamon
- Place the piloncillo, cinnamon and cloves in a large pot with 3 cups of water in medium heat. Let it come to boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about fifteen minutes (so all the flavors blend well).
- In the meantime, cut the pumpkin in half and discard all the seeds
- Now cut pumpkin in smaller pieces (about the size of your fist)
- Strain the piloncillo mixture and discard cinnamon and cloves, return the mixture to pot.
- Place the cleaned, seeded pumpkin pieces face down in the mixture.
- Cover the pot and let it simmer for one hour.