IT’S Thanksgiving Day today, November 27, 2014. It is a national holiday celebrated in the United States and in Canada, although on different dates. In the U.S., it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November which falls on November 27 this year; while in Canada, Thanksgiving takes place on the second Monday of October.
Thanksgiving, in general, has its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions. A day of giving thanks initially for the blessing of a good year of harvest and how as a celebration for all blessings that came in the preceding year, Thanksgiving Day has been an annual tradition in the U.S. since 1863, when a presidential proclamation was issued, and strengthened by federal legislation in 1941.
Thanksgiving is now also observed in other countries with a sizable American community, including the Philippines. Just last week, specifically on November 17, 2014, the United States Potato Board (USPB), in cooperation with the Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), hosted an early 2014 Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for distributors of U.S. potatoes and other U.S. products, colleagues and friends. This was held at the East Ballroom of One Rockwell, in Rockwell Center, Makati City, and the exquisite dinner was prepared by celebrity chef Sau del Rosario, one of USPB’s chef consultants in Manila.
Highlight of the Thanksgiving Dinner was, of course, Roast U.S. Turkey with Classic Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Gravy served with French Beans and Baby Carrots. After all, what’s a Thanksgiving Dinner without a Roast Turkey? Chef Sau himself carved the turkey, which everyone had been waiting for since the guests started arriving at the venue and saw the huge, perfectly golden roast bird sitting on the small buffet table with all the stuffings, sauces and sides, including a chafing dish of Baked Potato Casserole.
Chef Sau baked some lovely Potato Brioche, which sat in baskets on each table, served with butter, as the guests took their places. Then an impressive Baked Brie arrived on a platter with Potato Croutons and Fruit Delice, shared by ‘tablemates’ as lively conversation went on.
Then came individual servings of Lapu-Lapu Rillette with Fried Potato Cake for the appetizer. Chef Sau had done different versions of the rillettes in the past, using different fish varieties and crusts. In this case, he used U.S. Potato Hash-browns as a crunchy base.
Potato Ravioli with Marinated Prawn on Citrus Potato Celeriac Puree topped with Micro Sprouts Salad was served next. The puree was made with Potato Mash, and everything in the plate came together so harmoniously that it turned out to be my favorite for the night.
A huge Beef au Poivre on a bed of Arugula Salad, topped with Gravy and Edible Flowers came right before the Turkey buffet was opened.
Chocolate Mousse and Pumpkin Crème Brulee topped with a Potato Nugget dipped in White Chocolate served as the fitting ending to a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner, which was graced by top officials of the USPB, including U.S. Potato Grower Carl Hoverson from North Dakota and USPB global foodservice marketing manager Susan Weller; and of the USDA, led by Agriculture Attache Bill Verzani and agriculture marketing specialist Ramona Singian.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!