Family Identity, Food Traditions, and Social Structure

1. In my house, one of the most critical ritual meals is the Thanksgiving feast, which must include a stuffed turkey. It is an important feast for thanksgiving and reaffirming ideas and assumptions relevant to American cultural and social solidarity (Williams-Forson, 2008). The family gathered physically and emotionally for the ritual meal served in our grandparents' home. Planning, obtaining necessary things, preparing, and handling meals are all part of the feast. Such processes aid in bringing people together and celebrating American culture while exposing essential food practices.
2. The feast's menu contains brown rice and chicken breast, turkey, and broccoli and other small ingredients such as vegetables and fruits for accompanying the main dish. Planning involves thinking about the food to be eaten after which preparation starts. Cookbooks play a vital role although in most cases meal planners cook the food for the occasion (Siskind, 2002). There is flexibility of meal options for different groups such as children, the elderly, vegetarians, and any invalid member of the family. Some of the activities in the morning of the feasting day include taking items from the freezer to defrost, marinating meats, tofu, and vegetables for the evening meal.
3. The meal that includes serving of turkey meat symbolizes bounty and the civilization of America. However, chicken meat is a symbol that the feast is thanksgiving dinner. The fact that turkeys are less expensive and quite available makes it a good choice for the thanksgiving feast. The origin of the meal consisting of stuffed turkey originated from the Indians. In magazines and other decorations of thanksgiving parties pictures of Tom Turkeys with their full feathers are normally displayed (Siskind, 2002). The inclusion of the Turkey as the meal and its preparation by men reveals the gender roles in American families. Women prepare meals and after the feast, they wash utensils as men watch violent games in that television.
The dishes represent American culture as well as family unity since they bring family members together. The entire process of planning, shopping, meal planning, preparation, and eating brings people together. According to Calington (2008), “preparing a meal occurs within an elaborate set of social, economic, and cultural frameworks…”. This implies that meal preparation has to take into account different groups including lesbians and gay families to met every need. When women wash dishes, they chat and talk about their families specially their progress in various matters. The feast helps in making the children understand the thanksgiving symbol through stories about American culture. It is a great opportunity for telling stories and socializing with one another. The dishes are important since the thanksgiving ceremony is when every citizen considered him/herself an American. Brown rice cooked during the feast symbolizes healthy meals since it is cooked as a whole grain. Its nutrition value is unaltered since it is not highly processed like the white rice. The meal brings family members home including individuals living in various cities and other countries. This helps in strengthening the family ties and forming strong kinship bonds. Despite the stereotypes involving black Americans but thanksgiving fasts helps in uniting everyone despite the ethnic background (Siskind, 2002). The meals served do not discriminate against any person since it is for uniting the extend family from any part of the globe who considers him/herself as an American citizen.
4. People have different roles in preparing the dishes and unity is very important. Women who are the major planners do most of the cooking. However, some preparations such as the stuffed Turkey is done by men facilitating sharing of duties during the event. Serving is done by women while children help in collecting utensils once the guest have eaten. Cleaning of utensils is also by women with the help of older children, which helps them to take some responsibilities (Williams-Forson, 2008). The participation in various duties reflects the roles of men, women, and children in the American society. The family consists of father, mother, and children and each has a unique role to play. The role of women is well defined since they are aware of their duties such as preparing meals and cleaning in the houses. Children are supposed to help their parents in various household chores especially around the house. During the thanksgiving feast each of the parties play his or her roles effectively, which unites everyone.
Food traditions such as the thanksgiving feast play a big role in defining family identity and history of Americas. For instance, traditionally the role of a father in the family is to pay bills, provide food, and other needs of the family according to Williams-Forson (2008). The role of the mother is mostly in the kitchen and caring for the children. This is depicted very well in the since after the meal each one knows what to do next. The unity created during the common chores reveals the willingness of the family to keep their close ties. Although, modernization has changed the view of gender roles in America, the division of tasks during the thanksgiving meals clearly reveals that each person is expected to perform a certain role. In addition, each engages in a unique leisure activity (Williams-Forson, 2008). For instance, as women cleanup the utensils men watch violent games. This indicates that there are leisure activities for men, women, and children in the society. However, the most important thing is that the special meal brings everybody together and family members familiarize with one another. Food traditions help in defining families and understanding the history of people. Although due to modernization culture may change a lot, a function involving sharing meals and other traditions reminds people about their roots. When they come together with their children, there is a lot to learn especially for the young people since most of them have adopted urban lifestyle.
Christopher Calington. (2008). Feeding Lesgay Families. Food and Culture. 260-286.
Siskind, J. (2002). The Invention of Thanksgiving: A Ritual of American Nationality. Food in the USA: A Reader, 41-58.
Williams-Forson, P. (2008). More than Just the “Big Piece of Chicken”: The power of Race, Class, and Food in American Consciousness. Food and Culture: A Reader, 342-353.

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