Wanda and I just watched the Thanksgiving episode of the new "holiday edition" of Padma Lakshmi's show Taste the Nation (available on Hulu), titled "Truth and the Turkey Tale."
Each episode of Taste the Nation spotlights a culture in America—mostly immigrant cultures and also Indigenous—and through that culture's food tells the history of their experience, and how they've become an important part of America. It's positioned as a "food reality show" but it's not really about the food—that's simply a lure to draw you in to hear stories you may not otherwise hear. The first season was uneven, but when it was good, it was really good. We've only seen two of the four special holiday episodes, and they feel like much more of the good, and less of the iffy. This review in Variety sums it up well:
The Thanksgiving episode is spent with members of the Wampanoag Nation, and like the book I wrote about earlier this month, If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving, it turns to Native voices to correct the record about Thanksgiving. Lakshmi meets with Native educators, historians, chefs, linguists, and more, representing multiple tribes within the Wampanoag Nation. I'm so grateful to have these voices available to Wanda as she learns about the world.
Padma Lakshmi swears a bit, but that's not something we shy away from in our house. As a matter of fact, Wanda and I started reading If You Lived... together today, and as we read about how the Native people were subjected to enslavement, theft, invasion, and disease at the hands of the European colonists, Wanda became frustrated about how "the Europeans were up to a bunch of bullshit." She kind of half-whispered "bullshit," and surprised herself—she giggled and said "I think that's the first time I've used a real swear word!" I told her it was a very appropriate time and place to use a swear word.
Despite the "bullshit," If You Lived... and Taste the Nation are not bummers. Yes, there are real reasons to be upset and frustrated by what the Wampanoag have experienced, and neither the book nor the show shy away from any of that, but the point isn't to get to know the Wampanoag solely in the context of all that "bullshit." Both of these resources are aiming to convey what it has meant to be Wampanoag, past and present—in Padma Lakshmi's words, "who are these Indigenous folks, independent of those black and white hatted colonists?" In the case of Taste the Nation in particular, it's fun to get to know these people and spend a bit of time with them.