My America: Abraham Verghese

Thursday, July 07, 2011

All week, we’ve been speaking with influential Americans about what patriotism and America means to them as part of our series "My America." Today’s guest is Dr. Abraham Verghese, professor of the theory and practice of medicine at Stanford University Medical School, and best-selling author of "My Own Country: A Doctor's Story" and "Cutting for Stone."

Verghese was raised in Ethiopia, by parents from India. In the early 1980s, he immigrated to the U.S. for a medical residency, and then to rural Tennessee to treat gay men afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

* * * *

Talking about the sense of dislocation and alienation an immigrant can experience, Verghese said he lamented not having had a more common American experience, but had great appreciation for it. "There are traditions and things that people who have been born in one town have that I envy. I never had the ritual of possum pie or Friday night football," he told John and Celeste.

Here is the recipe for possum pie from Taste Of Home:


  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 graham cracker crust (9 inches)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1-3/4 cups cold milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/3 cup instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 12 to 16 pecan halves


  • In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Spoon into crust. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  • In a bowl, whisk the milk, vanilla and pudding mixes for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Spoon over the pecans. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Top with whipped cream and pecan halves. Yield: 8 servings.


Dr. Abraham Verghese

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

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