In the spirit of full disclosure, I need to say upfront that I am Canadian. I moved to New York for culinary school a year or so after college and have only been in the United States for the better part of a decade. I tell you this not because I think you are entirely interested, but because it explains that
I know relatively little about American Thanksgiving, the most widely celebrated, cross-cultural holiday of all. I want to be clear that I am by no means a Thanksgiving expert. Sure; Canadians have their own Thanksgiving too, the same weekend as U.S. Columbus Day -- we eat a bit of turkey and hang out with family, but it is far less of an occasion. In the years since I moved, I have spent the holiday at generous friends' homes and have even cooked once for a large group of ex-pats and others who do not spend it with their families.
Most often, though, I use the holiday as an excuse to go back to Canada for a relaxed, non-celebratory, long weekend (as I will be doing again this year). I must admit to feeling a little left out in the past. After all, any Thursday afternoon spent eating your brains out with friends and/or relatives in honor of those who did it before you, watching a little football and taking a nap is my kind of holiday! So it was with great pleasure that I was able to celebrate an extra Thanksgiving this year, just a few months ago, in the sticky heat of a Los Angeles summer. My real family may not have been around, but Tom, Padma and our guest judge, (the side-splitting and outrageous) Tony Bourdain -- as well as the winning contestants from this week's Quickfire Challenge who did not have to cook -- more than made up for the fun and shenanigans they would have supplied.