To me, Christmas is a universal holiday. Growing up, my mom would put up a small Christmas tree in Nepal, and my father would take us to a very fancy restaurant to celebrate the holiday that we as Nepalis had no association religiously or culturally. In Nepal, Christmas is another holiday to celebrate, and Nepalis will take up any holiday if it involves eating and drinking.
Back home, in America, our Christmas now has a different meaning. Our families get together, and our kids wait all year for Santa to bring in their most-wanted gifts. It is truly a time of giving and eating together. Just like Diwali, at Christmas, we give presents to teachers, friends, neighbors, well-wishers besides families. Many make their prized delicacy or family recipe for Christmas. My German mother-in-law always makes sugar cookies, and we look forward to them all year.
So what does an immigrant cook for Christmas?
Yesterday, when I went to get my nails done for the holidays, Lynn, a Vietnamese Immigrant and I started talking about what to cook for Christmas Dinner. Lynn has four daughters and six grandkids. And it’s one day she cooks an all American Dinner: Ham roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, and pies. Lynn, with a kind smile, announces. I never cook any Vietnamese food. Not even spring rolls.
To her, Christmas is a holiday that she celebrated as an immigrant with her family. Her new American family. So cooking all American dinner is an homage to her America. She considered it a sign of respect and gratitude that America meant to her. Safety, opportunity, and excellent education for her children that she didn’t have growing up.
Like, Lynn, I too will cook all American dinner for Christmas for my family every year. Celebrate the America I love. The America that has loved me and accepted me. Given me an amazing husband and opportunities that I humbly treasure.
Since my American family is German and Lebanese, we always have Potatoe salad and Kibbeh. And in memory of our Grandma Ginnie, I will always make German Potato Salad as she did for the special occasions. Happy Holidays and if you like, do enjoy our beloved Grandma Ginnie’s recipe, who passed away a few months ago at the age of 95. The Potato salad is a reflection of my America, which entails Grandmas, uncles, aunties, friends, and more than a dozen cousins who love me, an immigrant like their own.
My homage to America is mastering Grandma Ginnie’s German Potato salad and bringing it to the Christmas dinner.
Recipe for Grandma Ginnie’s Potato Salad
Green onions (scallions)
For measurements, I eyeball everything. Because this is an oral recipe. Taste as you make.
Boil potatoes, cool, then peel and cut up the size you want. Add onions and radishes. Mix some mayo, a squirt of mustard and just a little sugar (optional). Add to potatoes. After it’s mixed, add some cut up eggs (leave some to slice for the top).
I sometimes add a little sour cream to the mayo mixture, my addition. Adjust mayo as you feel is needed to your liking. Put sliced eggs on top and sprinkle with paprika. I love capers so I finish the dish with it.
Happy Holidays and I hope you bring your tradition to the Christmas Dinner.