At America Eats Tavern in Washington D.C., Chef Jose Andres has cooked up a unique Thanksgiving menu meant to explore the historical origins of classic American dishes in collaboration with the National Archives. Though Chef Andres grew up in Spain, he appreciates the traditional aspects of Thanksgiving, particularly oyster ice cream, which he notes was a favorite of Mark Twain’s.
For his Thanksgiving menu this year many guests will start off with oyster ice cream. The dish is made by gently heating oysters and cream, similar to the way you would prepare an oyster stew. Andres says “you will get that cream, with the beautiful oyster salty, briny flavor.” After freezing the cream, a savory ice cream can be served and topped with a single raw oyster on the half-shell.
Oysters have long held an important tradition in American cuisine. During the 18th and 19th centuries New York City was filled with oysters, sold by peddlers on street corners and at huge open markets. In fact, oysters and other shellfish were among the first items to be sold by New York street food vendors.
At Chef Andres’ new restaurant he serves up American food with “historic roots”, gaining inspirations from Chef Amelia Simmons. Simmons wrote what is widely believed to be America’s first cookbook, American Cookery, written in 1798. This book was the first cookbook to depart from strictly English styles of cooking, with the author’s own take on recipes. Some of the recipes Chef Andres finds most inspirational are a “pompkin” pudding, an early form of pumpkin pie, as well as a simple cranberry tart recipe.
At Andres’ Thanksgiving he won’t be serving turkey but instead a baby roasted pig. Andres notes that “traditions are there to be kept. But also traditions are there to be created. So I don’t want to feel guilty, but sometimes, it’s not only honoring the tradition of turkey but bringing new foods and items to the Thanksgiving menu.”
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