We all have different family traditions when it comes to the holidays. Thanksgiving is one of those occasions where it seems like a lot of us are eating the same dishes on the same day. But every family, group of friends, couple, and individual can celebrate with unique dishes as well as unique traditions. Everyone has different memories of the special day growing up and some traditions can stay with an individual or new traditions can be made as we grow. I had the opportunity to interview P.S. & Co.’s proprietor, Andrea Kyan about her memories of food, family, as well as current Thanksgiving activities.
What did your Thanksgiving spread look like growing up? What were some of your favorite dishes?
Thanksgiving was a melting pot-feast of Burmese, Chinese and American dishes! My favorites were Mom’s lasagna with 7 types of cheeses (which I later learned is not the way Italians make lasagna) and her amazing cheesecake with the best crust made from vanilla wafers and graham crackers. I also remember Pillsbury biscuits and croissants - which I did NOT care for because it tasted fake! There was always a gigantic roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie (store-bought), as well as a few Burmese and Chinese noodle platters.
Are there any dishes that are unique to your family?
The Burmese and Chinese noodle dishes were probably unique to us, but I’m sad to report I don’t remember them clearly. I was all about the lasagna!
Are there any traditions that are unique to your family?
My brothers all came home for Thanksgiving. Sometimes we would celebrate with my 9 aunts/uncles and their kids for a total of around 100 family members! Thanksgiving was one of two holidays our families would come together for - the other was Chinese New Year.
What is your earliest Thanksgiving memory?
We recently moved to South Jersey (from California), and my mom decked out the dining room with her best lace tablecloth, dinner napkins, silverware, and her fanciest tableware for Thanksgiving. As soon as I smelled the wonderful aromas of her cheesy lasagna, I would race up to my bedroom to grab my favorite toy, Garfield, to join us for our Thanksgiving feast.
What did desserts look like on Thanksgiving?
Pumpkin Pie and Cheesecake. These two still reign as my favorite Thanksgiving desserts and the inspiration for P.S. & Co.’s Pumpkin Pies and Cheesecake Brownies.
Did you help cook or did you have any specific responsibilities for Thanksgiving?
Nope! I was quite useless. I just enjoyed stuffing myself and eating until my stomach was about to burst. Mom tried to get me involved in the cooking process, but my older brothers were more interested (and helpful) than me. I don’t know what I was doing instead, probably roping Dad into playing board games with me while everyone else was cooking!
How did your personal Thanksgiving change when you embraced a vegetarian diet?
Luckily, lasagna and cheesecake were always part of our tradition, so I ended up having more stomach space for lasagna and cheesecake!
Was your family open to bringing these dishes to the table on Thanksgiving?
I became vegetarian when I was 13, and had zero interest in cooking and didn’t contribute! Mom did all the cooking.
How about when you went vegan?
When I became vegan at age 29, I made a vegan version of lasagna, sweet potato pumpkin cream tarts, pies, and cheesecakes that I would bring to family feasts. Not only was my family open to these new takes on classic favorites, but they all also loved it and looked forward to the vegan options year after year - even more than the traditional dishes.
What is your newest Thanksgiving tradition?
Traveling to the mountains or a new National Park with family and Tuffy, of course!
Have you ever had an unconventional Thanksgiving? (place, meal, company, etc.)
Last Thanksgiving was unconventional and memorable because it was the first holiday in 7 years where I had the day off on Thanksgiving because I closed the restaurant for a few days for the staff and me to have time with family. It was so wonderful to have time off and know the team was able to relax with their families, it’s become a new tradition: never open the business open on Thanksgiving again!