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‘The Healing is in the Food:’ Local Chefs Gather’ Round the Thanksgiving Table to Share Safely This Year

Local chef Quiana Broden of Cooking With Que will roll up her sleeves and lovingly season, measure, dice, sprinkle, bake and add a hefty helping of love to her annual Thanksgiving feast this year, which will look a lot different than her typical family affair at her home.

Due to COVID-19, for many this year, Thanksgiving is canceled or will be a modified version of what typically takes place. She’s also playing it safe this year, especially in light of the recent COVID-19 spikes and statewide three-week pause. Just Broden and her husband and three children will have dinner together, with a few other close family members joining them virtually.

“Zoom has saved a bunch of lives and relationships. It is not bad to hop on a Zoom call,” she said.

For Broden, with an elderly, ailing father who overcame COVID-19 this year, she will prepare him and others a to-go container filled with healthy, hearty eats of her Thanksgiving soul-food style feast filled with classic delights and vegetarian options. Broden and her husband are vegetarians, but the non-vegetarian members in the family also get down with her dishes that taste like the real thing.   

As a result of COVID-19, her father became temporarily unable to walk, so she got to work doing what she does best, preparing personalized, healthy dishes that she delivers to his nearby home because nursing homes and other assisted living facilities were unable to accommodate him.

“I’m trying to heal him, so his legs start working. I want to fix foods that are not going to give him high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers,” Broden said, adding that she “spoils” her father with foods and is at his house regularly. “The bonus is I get to take care of my dad to make sure he eats health every day. The healing is in the food.”

Broden said that while he still craves some things like salt [she puts Mrs. Dash in his salt containers unbeknownst to him], and he isn’t the biggest turkey fan, he will be treated to some salmon this year.

“I am going to make him a nice roasted salmon because number one it’s simple flavors and soft. He has dentures and I don’t want to screw up his teeth,” she said.

She’s also preparing vegan mac and cheese, homemade stuffing cranberry sauce [made with fresh cranberries and fresh persimmons] she will use to make her famous cranberry sauce.

Godwin Ihentuge, a Nigerian American chef and restaurateur at Afro-Caribbean YumVillage, said that for Thanksgiving, his immediate family, his girlfriend, and a couple of close friends are celebrating the holiday at his West Village home with Afro-infused flavors from the blending of cultures from his Nigerian father and Black American mother.

 “We are going to all get together and have a Thanksgiving dinner … the only difference is we’ll probably have some ogbono stew, egusi, plantain, and traditional stuff like and dry-aged cheese to go in his macaroni and cheese, [along with serving] peppery, savory greens,” he said adding that also on the menu are different spice-based dishes including a mushroom broth, freshly-prepared cornbread, and roasted turkey legs and a turkey breast.

 

Ihentuge said that growing up with his younger brothers and parents, they would all sit down at the table and eat together, sharing stories and laughter.

 

He said today, he is continuing that tradition of sitting down to “break bread together,” especially at dinnertime, and this holiday will be no different.

 

“[We will] sit down and talk about life and what we’re thankful for,” he said, adding that though there are a lot of bad things happening in the world, there is still a lot of good, and that’s the focus for him and his family.

 

 

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