Filipino Food in American Context

Informant: “When our grandmother, my grandmother, was still alive–our Filipino grandmother–I’ll just speak in plural, since she’s sitting here [referring to her older sister]–we were really I think a lot more traditional. She would make a lot of pancit, which is just like Filipino chow mein more or less, and Lumpia Shanghai which is like eggrolls, and various types of Filipino food, and like that kind of became amalgamated with turkey and stuffing and whatever all for Thanksgiving. And so even though we don’t eat so many Filipino food type things, we still eat, like, pancit, and someone always brings at least one dish still so I guess that’s our traditionalized thing. My mom used to put hopia, which is like these white bean pastry thingies, into my lunch when I was a kid–and seaweed in my lunches.”

Thanksgiving is such a major holiday in America that most people celebrate it in some form or another. It’s relatively easy; all you have to do is eat a very large meal with your family. There’s the “traditional” Thanksgiving food–turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie–with a ton of variation. For many immigrant families, this is also an opportunity to indulge in their own traditional foods, even if they don’t make or eat it on a regular basis. In essence, the atmosphere of tradition surrounding this day is what prevails, rather than the specificity of the tradition.