Enjoy Cultural Foods from Home on Thanksgiving

08 Nov 2022 - Category: Blog /
Enjoy Cultural Foods

Since Thanksgiving first became a public holiday in 1862 it has been one of the biggest and most anticipated days on the calendar. It is an opportunity for people to get together with family and friends, eat great food and spend some quality time with loved ones.

62% of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving at home this year. 53.4 million people are expected to travel in order to get home or visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. In 2021, consumers in the United States were planning to spend an average of 448 U.S. dollars for Thanksgiving.

But, Thanksgiving is not the same for everyone. The United States is a country of immigrants that can boast people and communities from countries all around the world. What do immigrants in the U.S. eat on Thanksgiving? Do immigrants even celebrate Thanksgiving? And, how have the cuisines of different cultures influenced the food and meals being served at Thanksgiving meals this year?

Below we explore all these questions and more, to help you learn more about how cultural foods from outside the country are enjoyed in homes across the U.S. for Thanksgiving.

An American Thanksgiving

What is a truly American Thanksgiving? In today’s world it’s quite hard to define. Thanksgiving means different things to different people and it is enjoyed in a variety of ways around the country and the world. Thanksgiving should be a time for family, friends and community. It should be centered on food, togetherness and being thankful for what you have.

There is no one single American thanksgiving but rather an array of traditions, perspectives and experiences. Regardless of where you live - whether it be New York, Florida, Texas, California, the American Thanksgiving has evolved over the years to encompass a broad set of cultural experiences. These experiences are often best expressed with food. So let’s delve into some of the great food that makes Thanksgiving the most anticipated meal of the year for many Americans.

Traditional Thanksgiving food

Having said all that, there are definitely some traditional thanksgiving foods that you would expect to see at millions of Thanksgiving dinners across the U.S. They include:

  • Roast Turkey
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Corn
  • Stuffing
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie

When it comes to Thanksgiving everything starts with a roast turkey. All of the rest of these foods can be considered traditional Thanksgiving dinner sides. They serve to complement the turkey, fill the plate with goodness and make you feel really tired and happy after the meal.

Depending on the kind of occasion you attend, you may find that while the host cooks the Turkey, the guests will help by bringing sides like dinner rolls, pumpkin or pecan pies, and mashed potatoes. Different families will have different traditions and every table will look different. This may be particularly true if you come from an immigrant family that lives in the U.S. and celebrates Thanksgiving in their own style.

Thanksgiving cultural dishes, sides and ingredients

Of course, there is more to Thanksgiving than Turkey. Multicultural families across America have been incorporating their own dishes and cuisines into their own Thanksgiving meals for many years. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how cultural foods from home are enjoyed by American families on Thanksgiving:

  • Vegetable curry
  • Couscous
  • Baklava
  • Beans and Rice
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Naan
  • Stir-fry noodles

There are many delicious foods from around the world. Below are some cultural food suggestions to also consider enjoying on Thanksgiving:

Main Dishes -

- Tacos al pastor (Mexico)

- La Bandera Dominicana (Dominican Republic)

- Cazuela de mariscos (Colombia)

- Lechon Kawali (Philippines)

- Bulgogi (Korea)

- Jerk Chicken (Jamaica)

Sides -

- Pão de queijo (Brazil)

- Kelewele (Ghana)

- Tequeños (Venezuela)

- Jollof Rice (West Africa)

- Asaro (Nigeria)

- Paratha (Pakistan)

- Malawach (Israel)

Dessert -

- Mishti Doi (Bangladesh)

- Alfajores (Argentina)

- Pichi-Pichi (Philippines)

- Brigadeiro (Brazil)

- Churros (Latin America)

- Flan (Latin America)

If you found some of these dishes on your Thanksgiving table they might seem out of place. However, for many families in the U.S. any one of these foods is an essential part of their Thanksgiving tradition.

Along with these foods from various cultures around the world, many people also try their own take on the roast turkey. For example, those that want to embrace their Indian heritage might try a Tandoori Turkey that will include Indian spices and ingredients while still staying true to the traditional American dish.

Equally, you could make a Chilean Ancho Roast Turkey with Adobo, or a Mexican-inspired Cilantro and Lime rubbed Roast Turkey. Filipino-American immigrants might go for Ham instead of Turkey and replace the sweet potato pie with Kalabasa Leche Flan. As you can see there are many ways to enjoy Turkey. Given that it is a notoriously dry meat, it is often a good place to incorporate different ideas and use spices and ingredients from all around the world.

To learn more about cultures around the world that have influenced the Thanksgiving turkey read this Washington Post article about, “How 7 immigrant families transform the Thanksgiving turkey with the flavors of their homelands”.

All of these foods will feature in meals across the United States this Thanksgiving. Over time as more people embrace a wider variety of dishes and sides, the traditional Thanksgiving will evolve into something more. Thanksgiving can be a great example of the melting pot of American culture. The best way to liven up your Thanksgiving meal is by giving some of these dishes a try and seeing whether they help make your Thanksgiving occasion even better.

How to send money from the U.S.

Learning about cultural foods and thanksgiving traditions may have made you think about what you can do for your loved ones. How about sending them money to support them through the holidays? If you live in the U.S. and you want to start supporting your loved ones living abroad, Small World can help.

Small World is an international money transfer service that helps millions around the world send money to their loved ones. There are a number of transfer services you can make use of if you are based in the United States and you want to support your loved ones abroad, including cash pickup and bank deposit.

Your first digital transaction is always free of transfer fees!

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