Thanksgiving Dishes

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Ella — Persian food

Both sides of my family are Iranian, and while my parents immigrated to the US years ago, most of my extended family still lives in Iran. Since there are so few of my family members in Florida, I don’t spend Thanksgiving with my blood relatives. Instead, I spend all major holidays with our extended friend group, made up of Iranian immigrants, whom I consider a sort of mini family. While we’ve attempted to assimilate to American culture by serving the traditional Thanksgiving dishes like turkey and mashed potatoes, we also go back to our roots by simultaneously eating some Persian meals. One such dish is zereskh poloh (زرشک پلو), saffron-infused rice served with dried barberries. It’s fairly sweet, which may seem odd for a rice-based dish, but the light, exotic taste paired with a normally pretty bland Thanksgiving turkey is a flavor combination worth trying.

Shreya — Restaurant food

My family has never celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving with turkey, mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce. Instead, every year we go to a different restaurant that we’ve wanted to try, sampling countless different cuisines through the years. I can recount sipping noodle soup, tasting fresh sushi or biting into naan fresh off the pan each holiday. Every Thanksgiving is something new, and in a way, our own tradition.

Anya — Indian food

Since we only moved to the U.S. two years ago, Thanksgiving is not much of a tradition in my family. When we celebrated it with our friends last year, my mother cooked a fusion roasted leg of lamb with Indian masala or spices. The preparation was tedious: after seasoning it with a plethora of colorful spices, she marinated and slow-cooked it for ten hours. Smelling the aroma from the kitchen all day was incredibly tempting, and dinner later that night certainly did not disappoint.

Irene — Apple crisp

For as long as I can remember, apple crisp has always been a staple in our household. Something about the warm gooey baked apples covered in a crisp brown layer of oats and sugar makes this dish special to my family. My favorite part about apple crisp is that it has the same flavor as apple pie, but with much more texture from the oats. While we do make traditional foods like turkey and mashed potatoes, no Thanksgiving at our home is complete without this dessert.

Zoe — Cake

My family has a traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year at my grandparents’ house in Michigan. My grandmother spends the day in the kitchen cooking all of the foods, from the turkey to the green bean casserole. The most special part, however, is the dessert. My grandmother has made it an annual tradition to surprise us with a cake in a different shape each year. She’s been doing this since I was very young, and I can recall elephant, turkey and gumball machine shaped cakes just to name a few. 

Kayra — Turkish food

In Turkey, there is no Thanksgiving, so I had never celebrated the holiday until two years ago, with a couple of American family friends. Ever since we moved here, we make sure to decorate our table with care, say what we are thankful for and make special traditional food in our culture. I love Thanksgiving since it’s an opportunity for me to eat my mother’s homemade dolma, which are vine leaves typically stuffed with rice or/and meat with spices and veggies. I love squeezing some lemon on them and eating it with a side of Turkish yogurt. My dad and I also usually end the night with some baklava, which is a crispy Turkish dessert made with nuts and honey and served with vanilla ice cream. Thanksgiving is typically bittersweet, since the Turkish food we make reminds me of the rest of my family back home, who I celebrated this day countless times with. 

Nithisha — Indian food

My family is Indian, and although we do celebrate Thanksgiving, it is not always done traditionally with the massive turkey and stuffing. Instead my family puts an Indian twist on the holiday and makes a tandoori style chicken. However, we still tie it all back to the original holiday by adding some elements of the traditional food, such as cranberries and mashed potatoes.

Eva — American food

Since my family is Haitian and Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Haiti, my family was not aware of what to do when they arrived in the United States. Thus, my family assimilated to American culture for this holiday, preparing American food from pies to the turkey itself. It has become tradition for my family to try new aspects of American cuisine we would not eat any other day on Thanksgiving. 

Joseph — Jamaican food

I’m Jamaican, and I don’t have a drop of any other type of blood inside me, so I do not celebrate Thanksgiving at all. I like the days off of school, however. That is something I can celebrate, and what better way to celebrate than by eating some Jamaican cuisine? One Jamaican dish in particular that I like to eat during the holiday season is curry mutton. Mutton is goat, and I can understand you wanting to throw up in your mouth after reading that, but you can’t knock it ‘till you try it. Basically, it’s chopped up mutton boiled and cooked in a Caribbean style of curry (very different from the Indian version). The mutton is a unique, kind of pork-like meat that really hits the spot when you are tired of all the more conventional meats like beef or chicken. If you are vegan, my bad. 

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