10 Ethnic Dishes The Pilgrims Wished They Had On Thanksgiving

Over the years, America has earned the affectionate moniker of "gigantic melting pot."

Over the years, America has earned the affectionate moniker of “gigantic melting pot.” As a rare all-inclusive holiday, the Thanksgiving meal tends to be a homogenous feast regardless of the household.

But unsurprisingly a dish or two from our diverse ethnic backgrounds always works its way into Thanksgiving dinners.

Part of what makes the U.S. so great is not only how people hold onto their heritage, but how that culture ultimately becomes part of the whole. It’s not unlikely that one of these ten dishes may become part of everyone’s Thanksgiving in coming generations.

1. Ducana


Like sweet potato casserole … but not. Photo: @tasty_indulgence / Instagram

Origin: Antigua/Montserrat and most Caribbean Islands

This batata (sweet potato) dumplings go by a few names in the West Indies, but they’re delicious any way you spell it. A bit like a sweet potato tamale, ducana generally fly out of the banana leaves in which they’re boiled.

2. Turkistan Pilavi :::figureethnicthanks2

Pilgrims probably would have preferred lamb anyway, let’s face it. Photo: @diyettos / Instagram

Origin: Turkey

Though this rice pilaf has roots in Central Asia, the Turkish version is the most popular. Turkey may share its name with the holiday’s special bird, but any Turkish spread would be incomplete without the healthy serving of lamb this pilaf provides.

3. Songpyeon


A party on your plate (and also in your mouth). Photo: @esheepkitchen / Instagram

Origin: Korea

Rice cakes steal the show in any Asian spread, but Koreans take the cake to new chopstick-licking colorful levels. Typically presented in an array of black, cream, and pink shells, songpyeon is as much a treat for your eyes as it is for your stomach.

4. Tamales


The Pilgrims have major FOMO right now. Photo: @linnypoohs / Instagram

Origin: Mexico

As a California resident, there was a much larger data pool here, but tamales were at the top of everyone’s list. A universal inclusion at Mexican Christmas dinners, it only seemed right to make another batch a month prior. And maybe every day.

5. Kare-­Kare


I’m not scurred. Photo: @theskinnypot / Instagram

Origin: Philippines

Don’t be scared because this stew’s main ingredient is oxtail (and occasionally pigs feet or offals). A staple beef in many other countries, the tender, fatty oxtail, gives the stew — made of roasted peanuts or peanut butter, garlic and onions — a smooth, gelatinous texture.

6. Arroz Con Coco


Pretty sure the Pilgrims would have considered this more than just a ‘borderline’ dessert. Photo: @sweet_potatomj / Instagram

Origin: Colombia

Colombians have made coconut rice, similar to rice pudding, for hundreds of years. Forget about what you might have tried at an Indian, Thai, or even Jamaican restaurant — this borderline dessert is an entirely different animal.

7. Kinpira Gobo


Little matchsticks of love for the Pilgrims and their friends. Photo: @eat_w_love / Instagram

Origin: Japan

Braising burdock root might not seem obvious to most, but the Japanese have it down to a science. Often served cold or at room temperature, the resulting bowl of julienned vegetables is like a chewier, spicier coleslaw.

8. Jollof Rice


Simple, yet festive! Kind of like the Pilgrims? Photo: @itseliza_ / Instagram

Origin: Nigeria

This West African dish spawned the Trinidadian chicken pelau, but its relative simplicity makes this a mandatory meal at any festive event.

9. Bacalhau A Gomes De Sa


So bummed this never became an American staple. Photo: @luhmaartins / Instagram

Origin: Portugal

Americans typically don’t think about seafood when it comes to Thanksgiving, but this boiled codfish and potato casserole gets scraped clean from glass pans on Portuguese tables.

10. Mofongo


A glorious alternative to cranberry sauce. Photo: @jna.lee / Instagram

Origin: Puerto Rico

No, no one is swearing at you, but many would likely take oaths in the name of this Puerto Rican dish. Combining crisp, sweet plantains with a pork­-laden broth, mofongo can often outshine any other sides on a Boricua table.

For more stories like this, check out 8 Starbucks Facts That Will Blow Your Lid, as well as 10 Famous Last Meals.