November is here, and my thoughts are turning toward Thanksgiving dinner.
We all have our own favorite foods, you know -the ones that show up year after year, and that we wouldn’t think of replacing with a new dish. And we sometimes have a tendency to think everyone serves those foods. The truth of the matter is, though, that America is a land of immigrants, and each successive group of immigrants has brought its own favorite foods to the Thanksgiving table. If, like me, your roots are Southern, oysters probably show up in some way on your table, candied yams and macaroni and cheese are favored over mashed potatoes, and you probably prefer pecan pie to pumpkin. Italians have included pasta-maybe a lasagna, the Chinese use rice, often making a turkey stuffing with it, and a Mexican American turkey might include a mole to sauce it.
Thanksgiving feasts have been multi-cultural since the very beginning. As far as that first Thanksgiving dinner goes, it’s widely believed that since lobster was so available off the coast of Massachusetts in those early days, that it surely must have been served (hey -that would work for me). Potatoes were unavailable in those days, so no mashed potatoes. It’s unlikely that cranberry sauce was served, as sugar was an extremely expensive item. Pumpkin may have been a part of the meal, but not as a pie (they had no flour or ovens yet), nor were apples present in Plymouth at the time.
What are some of your special “ traditional” Thanksgiving dishes? I’d love to hear about them, and invite you to leave a comment.
In return, I’m giving you a link to a recipe at Food and Wine that has, no doubt, become a “tradition” in many Chinese American families.