Symbolic turkey

Bee Wilson (Food, 12 November) mentions our article on the celebration of Thanksgiving among Arab Americans, but she seems not to have read the paper to its conclusion. She defames both American culinary traditions and Arab Americans. The majority of Americans still cook the same dishes for Thanksgiving in the same way that their grandmothers did. Even those who bring home manufactured, packaged food for everyday, and carefully follow Martha Stewart's directions for guests, will cook traditional for Thanksgiving. Wilson's remarks on Arab Americans are much more serious. The point of our article was that many Arab Americans have redefined the symbolic meaning of Thanksgiving just as they have creolised the foods associated with it. Rather than eulogising "the Protestant Anglo-Saxon roots of America", Thanksgiving and observation of it have become for Arab Americans a symbolisation that "now we are Americans".

William and Yvonne Lockwood
Michigan State University Museum
East Lansing, Michigan, USA

This article first appeared in the 10 December 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Special Report - The great Koran con trick