By Eduardo Morales, Ph.D.
During this month of November, we can bring attention to giving thanks to persons who have impacted our lives, for events that have helped us celebrate ourselves, and to maintaining our health and well-being. We are experiencing difficult challenges to our health through COVID-19, MPX virus, and various respiratory ailments that are most impacting children and youth currently. Many have taken advantage of vaccines to minimize exposure and reduce symptoms. This combined with using masks are strategies to give thanks that we have ways to maintain our health during this long stretch of time. Reconnecting with past friends can be helpful for our own well-being as well as reaching out to those whom we have shared moments in our lives. I find this to be a good time to recollect our good fortunes, fond memories, and reach out to persons in our distant past just to say hello. Many persons have started to return to activities with an eye of caution about pending risks. I am hopeful that many of us can re-engage and fulfill experiences making our lives more exciting and joyful.
This is a month where we also recognize and express our gratefulness to our veterans who have served our country. As we approach this holiday season and the end of this calendar year giving thanks to our good fortunes and to those who are influential in our lives keep us vibrant and optimistic. Think about doing one deed each day can help build our sense of gratitude which in turn can be fulfilling. I like to use this month of November to celebrate and remember to give thanks with the dinner gathering being a climax to give thanks.
While Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Latin America, many Latinx persons in the U.S. feel a special connection to the holiday and the day of gratitude. Apart from the traditional turkey and ham options, Latinx persons usually include traditional dishes from their native cultures into this holiday. They tend to tailor their Thanksgiving meals to meet the duality of their culture in the U.S. while paying tribute to their roots.
Different Latinx cultures typically include specific dishes at their Thanksgiving festivities. For example, Cubans and Puerto Ricans often have platanos maduros or plainly called maduros by Dominicans (fried sweet plantains), and yucca dishes accompanied by various preparations of savory yellow rice. Cubans commonly have black beans while Puerto Ricans and adopted by Dominicans may have mofongo which is mashed green plantains that are seasoned with garlic and pork and shaped in a ball and served in a cup or ramekin with a sauce. Puerto Ricans may have pastelón which is a classic dish made of layers of thinly sliced sweet plantains, ground beef and cheese or commonly referred to as Puerto Rican Plantain “lazagna”. Argentinians usually have Milanesa, an array of breaded meats, on their Thanksgiving tables. For Venezuelans, ensalada de gallina (hen), a type of chicken salad, is common at a Thanksgiving feast. Mexicans may include pozole, a type of large corn soup, and dishes with mole, an unsweetened chocolate and chili flavored sauce. For desserts, one can expect in Latinx dinners flan, tres leches cake that can be up to cinco leches cake depending on the cook’s recipe, and rice pudding preferably made with coconut milk, flavored with cinnamon and may include raisins. On November 17 from 6 PM to 8PM AGUILAS will have its annual Thanksgiving event with food and celebration at the SF LGBT Center. Check AGUILAS’ website for details www.sfaguilas.org.
Soon we will be hearing about a special announcement through a press release that San Francisco has finally completed its own memorial to the Pulse Club victims that killed 49 persons on the night of June 29, 2016. This was considered the worse mass shooting in our recent history with many of the victims being Latinx LGBTQ. It is expected that the official unveiling of the San Francisco Pulse Memorial is expected to take place at 5PM on Wednesday, December 7 at the SF LGBT Center. The staff of AGUILAS together with the staff of the SF LGBT Center have worked very hard to make this memorial a reality as intended through funds provided by the SF Board of Supervisors. Stay tune for the official press release which is currently being crafted. There are many people who participated in making this San Francisco Pulse Memorial a reality. We have many thanks to them for their dedication which will be detailed in the upcoming press release.