Flashing back to a first Thanksgiving in Philadelphia with Anya von Bremzen

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Author Anya von Bremzen recalls feelings of alienation and homesickness as she celebrated Thanksgiving with her mother in Philadelphia, following their emigration from Russia. Photo by John von Pamer.

Cookbook author Anya von Bremzen flashbacks to her first Thanksgiving celebrated in Philadelphia after she and her mother immigrated, leaving the rest of her family behind in Russia. It was 1974 and they arrived as refugees with $200 and two suitcases. Arriving in October, their sponsors invited them for a classic meal with a massive turkey, stuffing from a box, cranberry jelly, marshmallow sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. The dishes were sweet to her palate, and she recalls feeling homesick and alienated. The following year, her mother had a hand at hosting dinner and invited Russian immigrants. They carried the heavy turkey home which her mother didn’t realize she had to defrost before putting in the oven. 

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Evan Kleiman