Welcome to Canada, welcome to turkey and tradition
For many families, a Christmas turkey is a holiday staple, with recipes and techniques handed down through the generations.
But for some newcomers to the Tri-Cities — and to Canada — stuffing, cooking and carving a bird is a novelty that requires a little instruction and some trial and error.
Last week, more than a dozen new immigrants took part in a Christmas 101 session organized by SUCCESS that offered tips on holiday traditions such as cooking a holiday turkey, making gravy, decorating a table and making easy appetizers.
“We want to let them know everything about Canadian culture and how to integrate,” said Alice Poon, a settlement program officer with the social service agency.
It was an eye-opening experience for one newcomer who has never cooked more than a cake in her small oven back in Malaysia, where she lived with her family until a few months ago. But Selina Wong said she’s brave enough to try to cook a turkey for the first time.
“I don’t do much cooking at home,” Wong admitted. But she said she wants to take part in Canadian traditions. She’ll put up a tree and attend Coquitlam’s Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship Church with her husband and three sons.
Eva Chen also plans to make some traditional Canadian dishes this Christmas. With a niece from New York arriving soon and her husband and 14-year-old son around the table, Chen hopes to have some help preparing the turkey. “Maybe we’ll cook the turkey together and get a little more information on the internet,” said Chen, who arrived in August from Quingdao, China.
Chen said her family has adjusted well to their new country; she is meeting a lot of new friends through SUCCESS, her husband likes the clean air and her son, a Heritage Woods secondary school student, likes the fact that he gets less homework than he did back in China.
As they watched a video on making gravy, the students in Christmas 101 appeared engrossed in the slow process of turning a slurry of flour, water and meat drippings into a thick liquid that’s good enough to pour on to mashed potatoes and stuffing.
Under the tutelage of Monica Hanser, a cook at Glen Pine Pavilion, they also tried their hands at making two appetizers to serve with a meal — prosciutto-stuffed dates and roasted apple and prosciutto wedges.
Poon said SUCCESS has had a lot of interest in the class and a similar workshop on Christmas traditions at Terry Fox Library in Port Coquitlam. At that class, participants were told the holidays are a time for family get-togethers and simple gifts are all that are needed as an introduction.
“They want to know what to do,” Poon explained. “To them, these are very important tips.”
Poon plans more classes in 2012 on topics such as Valentines Day and Easter.
“These are the things they don’t know and they find them interesting.”