Huong “Theory” Van, an alumna from the University of Central Florida and author of Ground Level Gourmet, graciously wrote a guest post sharing her thoughts on the Thanksgiving holiday and discussing how she and her family celebrate with their own Vietnamese flair.

Ok, so I’m American. But why does Thanksgiving remain such a confusing time for me?

I always had this vision of a family surrounding a table with a perfectly browned turkey, green bean casserole and all the other traditional sides and fixings.

The reality — we were a Vietnamese family who would have had the turkey dipped in ketchup and a side of pho as well as a menagerie of traditional American and Vietnamese dishes. We would also dine on our cloth-covered floor. This is the traditional way a Vietnamese family feasts.

I used to yearn for “normalcy” but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate my family’s quirks. Thanksgiving has become a competition between my mother and me to see whose dishes are better (she always wins). Thanksgiving is also a competition for my family of 11 to see who can talk the loudest over everyone (it’s usually my sister Vy). It’s also about my sister, Phung, experimenting with a family recipe that one of her customers gave her (and her being so pensive about it). The best part of it, though, is that it is one of the few times my family gets to be together. That is my favorite part of Thanksgiving.

P.S. What’s the big deal with turkey? I’d take my mother’s garlic-ginger-buttered king crab legs over them any day!

This is my version of modern banh xeo as well as demonstrating how small our nephew is/was.

Read more of Van’s culinary ambitions on her blog at: Ground Level Gourmet.