"Dot or feather?" This is what I was asked one time when I said I was Indian. It made me laugh reflexively, but I got to thinking about it later. Did I look Native American? Did the person asking not look past my dark hair, eyes and brown skin to see the very obvious differences in my features? Did they not want to think, and put the burden of differentiating on me? Was I overthinking this?
I've been mistaken for being South American, Italian, Iranian, and Israeli. And I quite enjoy it. I've always said that Central Casting would love me, since I could play so many different nationalities. I don't like being pegged as one thing, and would like to think that I could find a sense of belonging anywhere in this big, wide, beautiful, scarred and ravaged world.
My husband, however, is very American. Caucasian, from California. For the first Thanksgiving meal that I cooked for him, I was very tempted to make a Tandoori turkey. Mix it up a little, fuse our cultures. He was having none of it - he is a traditionalist, especially when it comes to food, and holiday food at that. His grandma, mother and aunts are fantastic cooks, and I had big shoes to fill.
I am thrilled beyond measure that this year, we will have family visiting from India for Thanksgiving. For twenty one years, I've wanted to share this holiday that is all about food, and lots of it, with my Punjabi family who think about food most of their waking moments.
So this year, the meal I cook will be all-American as always, but there will be room on the table for lovingly prepared dishes that are coming all the way from India. And my husband can say that he, perhaps unlike most Americans, had Thanksgiving with the Indians.