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