Central Michigan students celebrate a traditional holiday in a non-traditional way

Every year on the last Thursday of November, families get together to catch up on things, watch the Lions game and more importantly, eat some delicious comfort food.

Turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie are classics when it comes to Thanksgiving’s traditional cuisine. However, a couple students attending Central Michigan University decided to throw tradition aside for turkey day and instead prepare dishes that go back to their family’s roots.

Miguel Martinez, freshman from South Lyon, Mich., celebrates the holiday in a unique style that provides a Mexican flare to the feast. Like most families, the Martinez’s enjoy watching the football game and their meal includes both turkey and potatoes.

But, different from most, the Martinez’s don’t eat Thanksgiving dinner with their relatives since most of them live in Mexico. Instead, they spend their time with a bunch of other Mexican families that they have been lifelong friends with. All of the families dress up early for the occasion in nice clothing and prepare food around 5 p.m.

The Mexican cuisine that the families create ranges in spiciness, flavor and texture. These foods include loaded tacos and savory tamales wrapped in cornhusks, which adds flavor to the dish.

One of the favored meals during their dinner is a Mexican soup called “pozole.” It’s a type of pork stew that consists of fresh avocados, ripe tomatoes, spicy jalapenos and a pinch of cilantro that enhances the taste.

After the main course, the meal is finished off with pumpkin pie and baked custard, also known as “flan.”

The Martinez’s and their friends’ recipes have been passed down from generation to generation in their Mexican ancestry and they continue to use the same ingredients as their relatives do in Mexico.

To finish off the night, the families play games including Bingo, which they call “Lotería.” Martinez believes his way of celebrating Thanksgiving tops the traditional way.

“I think it’s a lot more fun and it fits my culture very well,” Martinez said.

Another freshman, Taylor Zwick from Ovid, Mich., also has a feast that consists of spicy foods. However, it’s a spicy cuisine that is found on the other side of the world.

Zwick, just like Martinez, has some of the normal Thanksgiving food on her plate like turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. However, her aunt’s husband, who’s from India, brings the other half of the food to the table and treats them with food from his upbringing.

A couple of the Indian recipes include tandoori chicken — which can be seasoned with hot or mild spices — and tabouli, which is a type of Indian salad that contains tomatoes, cucumbers, chopped parsley and mint, and is often seasoned with olive oil or salt.

Hummus, which is a dip that contains chickpeas, olive oil and garlic is also something that the family enjoys snacking on.

“I grew up with this food so it’s nothing new. I like eating the food and it ties in with our family’s roots,” said Zwick.

The other thing that sets Zwick’s family apart from the rest in terms of a Thanksgiving dinner is the size of her family. With over 50 family members attending the feast, large amounts of food and a huge audience in front of the TV for Thanksgiving football is nothing new.

Both of these students’ ways of celebrating Thanksgiving show that no matter how different the family, food, and activities are, there is one main purpose to this holiday and that is bringing loved ones together for a wonderful dinner.