Thanksgiving is the time of year when families come together. It’s also a time for people to stuff themselves with a variety of foods. The typical Thanksgiving menu includes turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, cornbread, along with other fall harvest foods. However, the menu isn’t just limited to these when looking at other cultures’ Thanksgiving-season foods.
The spicy and sweet flavors of Asia can be incorporated into American dishes for a more non-traditional take on Thanksgiving. Korean kimchi can be added to traditional mac and cheese casserole for some heat and acidity. Turkey leftovers can be used to make fried rice. In the Middle East, Persian basmati rice stuffing is made with gravy and cranberry sauce. This dish also includes goat cheese, pomegranate paste, and turkey. The stuffing is served with a refreshing labneh salad with cherry tomatoes and sumac.
Italians favor their antipasto platter over traditional spiced nuts. This platter usually has prosciutto, crostini, olives, cheeses, stuffed mushrooms, and salami. Along with the turkey, a cheesy and vegetarian manicotti can be enjoyed. Adding more to the sweets, it doesn’t hurt to have some tiramisu. To jazz up your dinner, South American food is the way to go. A great dinner starter is feijoada, a porky, smoky black bean soup which is known as Brazil’s national dish. Instead of the normal Thanksgiving sandwich, a Venezuelan arepa is a great snack: a round cornbread stuffed with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and just about any other traditional Thanksgiving food.
Americans also have their unique side dishes that differ from the known normal. When tired of the normal mashed potatoes, goat cheese can be added to create goat cheese baked mash potatoes. Just like the mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts can also be added to the mac and cheese to give the dish more flavor. Jalapeno cornbread muffins is a unique recipe to spice up the cornbread. Its competitor dish would be the well known pumpkin pie. Dessert lovers can try caramel apple pie with hot tamale whipped cream.
It’s possible to liven up some boring foods by giving them a more pleasing appearance. The cranberry sauce can be tweaked to create a cranberry sauce rose; however, it just might be too pretty to eat. There are a variety of foods to choose from to change the experience of a Thanksgiving dinner. A new dish can be made, or a traditional dish can be served to look not so traditional. No matter what you choose to eat this year, make sure to enjoy a meal filled with happiness and thankfulness.
Melike Yesil and Chloe Cho
Graphic: Bronwyn Spencer