Thanksgiving in the Lucchesia

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. A National Holiday in Canada and the USA on the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving associates a harvest festival together with the commemoration of the Pilgrim Fathers’ survival through their first days when they landed from the good ship Mayflower onto the shores of a ‘new’ continent

The fact that the Pilgrim Fathers survived at all was largely due (somewhat ironically as it later turned out) to the local native Indian population. It was Squanto of the Wampanoag tribe who taught the newcomers from England’s Plymouth where and how to find food. Thanks to him the pilgrims learnt how to catch eels and grow maize. They were also introduced to sources of nourishment such as turkey, pumpkin, cranberries and potatoes, none of which had been known in the country they came from.

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These foodstuffs featured heavily in the delightful Italo-American menu prepared by Paolo Monti the brilliant chef of La Cucina di Carignano.

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The cucina and restaurant nestles below the west Luccan hills and where a motley crowd of fifty odd gathered to celebrate the special day. (See http://www.cucina-italiana.com/it/ for information about Monti’s cooking school).

Here was the menu.

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And here were the four courses:

Sea food salad with shrimp, squid, mussels,scallops, peppers and baby corn:

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The Italian stowaway’s pumpkin ravioli recipe:

Tuscan-style turkey roast with stuffing. Sweet potatoes with lime and coriander. Peas and ham. Butter smashed potatoes with butternut squash:

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Pumpkin Tiramisu:

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Thanksgiving is not just an American celebration. Together with widespread harvest festivals from the UK to Italy (see my post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/thanksgiving-for-tractors/) to Australia’s Norfolk Island, it is truly a feast of solidarity and appreciation that one will have enough food and resources to get through another winter.

Such symbolic gestures as ’pardoning the turkey’ (whereby the US President is given three turkeys, one of which is still alive and gets pardoned by him so that it can spend the rest of its days running wild among the fields), and the President himself serving in a canteen providing nourishment to homeless people, are all indicators of the sense of community which permeates the day.

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(President Obama pardons Totus the turkey)

It’s therefore, even more important that these ties be strengthened at a time when just two weeks ago an event occurred whose grotesque and mistaken purpose was to divide people and fill them with fear rather than with friendship.

The gentle countryside surrounding Carignano was full of the beauty of the fruits of the earth: it truly spelled concord.

Full and hearty thanks are due to Norma Jean Bishop, editor of our English-language Lucca magazine, ‘Grapevine’ and great organiser of events designed to further the cause of conviviality, exchange and harmony!

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