Happy Thanksgiving

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chef Miko Aspiras offering his chocolate fudge brownies, unique with chocolate-dipped basketweave fries as topping.

In the United States, they celebrate an important national holiday that comes before Christmas. It is called Thanksgiving, and it takes place on the fourth Thursday of November.
This year, it fell on 22 November and, as had become a tradition throughout the US, families sat down together to share carvings of roast turkey with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and sidings of pumpkin, sweet corn, sweet potatoes and fall vegetables.

The Thanksgiving celebration started as a harvest festival at the Plymouth Rock plantation in 1621 to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. It had been a year after the pilgrims arrived in the new world and founded the first permanent English settlement in New England, and their first harvest turned out to be so bountiful that they decided to stage a three-day Thanksgiving celebration. Pilgrims and natives gathered together to feast on turkey, venison, boiled pumpkin and dried fruits.

Zark’s Burger flamed up its popular meats.

After that first Thanksgiving, however, it was not celebrated again until 1789. Yes, that long after. That was when George Washington declared 26 November of that year, the last Thursday of November, as Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday. But since each state continued to celebrate the holiday on different dates, Thomas Jefferson decided to do away with the holiday during his incumbency as President. Then, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day is now an important occasion that is widely celebrated not only in America but in other countries as well, including the Philippines, where it is becoming more and more popular. Last Thursday, 22 November 2018, Thanksgiving Day, Potatoes USA and Real California Milk jointly threw an exciting Thanksgiving Party at the Greenfield District Central Park in Mandaluyong City. The marketing arm of the potato and the milk and cheese industries of the US, respectively, Potatoes USA and Real California Milk have made it a tradition to host a Thanksgiving Party for clients, colleagues, industry partners and friends annually.

potato hotdogs by chef Alvin Ong.

This year’s celebration was different because, in the past, Thanksgiving Dinner always took place in a five-star hotel or a famous chef-driven restaurant and the sit-down dinner would be prepared by a celebrity chef. A roast turkey would sit in an interactive carving station for everyone to enjoy, with an assigned chef doing the slicing and serving of the perfectly roasted golden bird.

This year, all norms were broken. Thanksgiving shed off all formalities. For the first time, it took place in an outdoor setting, as it occupied the grass-carpeted Greenfield District Central Park near the giant Christmas tree, under the canopy of tents. The formal round tables in hotels were replaced by wooden picnic tables decorated with mini decorative pumpkins, flowers and candles. A band, Infinite Soul, played on stage, as guests happily carried on casual conversations.

carving the Thanksgiving turkey at chef Moran’s booth.

Unlike the past years, there was no featured celebrity chef preparing food this time. Instead, a row of food stalls lined one side of the sealed-off park, offering various delicious eats. In his booth, chef Alvin Ong offered grilled potato hotdogs in sticks, potato halaya and potato siomai in wooden boats complete with soy sauce, calamansi and chili garlic oil. Next to his booth stood multi-awarded pastry chef Miko Aspiras’ dessert stall featuring trays upon trays of chocolate fudge brownies with chocolate-dipped basket-weave fries as topping. Then it was chef Natalia Moran’s booth, whose beautifully golden roast turkey was a big hit. Next came Fiery Style Southwestern Flaming Grill, which served generous portions of nachos and freshly fried potato chips with guacamole and salsa. Burger lovers flocked to the food stall of Zark’s Burger, which flamed up its huge signature burgers for everyone who wanted a bite.

nachos with the works from Fiery Style.

NYFD provided the fries, while Macau Imperial Tea served its full line of milk teas, including its best-selling Cheesecake and Pearl Milk Tea and Cream Cheese Oreo Milk Tea.

Over on the buffet table near the stage, several cheese boards, laden with California cheeses, were laid out for guests to partake of. Guests also helped themselves to wines, kept chilled in buckets, with wine glasses on stand-by beside them.

It was Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!

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