"Themed" thanksgiving menu

It's just 3 of us this year and I thought I'd mix it up, since none of the traditionalists in our family will be present. I'm considering southwest, but the it's not really speaking to me for some reason. Other ideas for a culinary/regional/ethnic theme?

  • Posted by: TobiT
  • November 5, 2017
  • 565 views
  • 7 Comments

6 Comments

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Nancy
Nancy November 5, 2017

Thanksgiving is the echt American holiday. I've heard of families taking dishes from origin countries around the globe and integrating them into their Thanksgiving meals.
So, in a way, everyone's table is ethnic.
OTOH, you feel stuck.
Here are some ideas for themes:
1) region where you live now...learn who are providers of quality local poultry, produce & bakery products and buy from them;
2) region(s) where one or all 3 of you grew up;
3) only recipes from a country whose cooking you love, even if you have no connection;
4) only recipes from a period of American history & cooking;
5) only recipes from one American chef, cook or writer whose work you like.

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TobiT
TobiT November 5, 2017

Thanks for these ideas. You are right about the essence of the holiday - and our family is proof: husband born in chile to Central European parents, I grew up in New England (and often have celebrated the holiday just a few miles from the site of the first thanksgiving) and of Eastern European ancestry, my daughter was born in Ethiopia and we now live in the Midwest.
Maybe our theme will be "Immigrants: We get the job done!"

Nancy
Nancy November 5, 2017

Thanksgiving is the echt American holiday. I've heard of families taking dishes from origin countries around the globe and integrating them into their Thanksgiving meals.
So, in a way, everyone's table is ethnic.
OTOH, you feel stuck.
Here are some ideas for themes:
1) region where you live now...learn who are providers of quality local poultry, produce & bakery products and buy from them;
2) region(s) where one or all 3 of you grew up;
3) only recipes from a country whose cooking you love, even if you have no connection;
4) only recipes from a period of American history & cooking;
5) only recipes from one American chef, cook or writer whose work you like.

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Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. November 5, 2017

So many fun ways you could take this Thanksgiving! Since you mentioned your husband has Central European roots, and you have Eastern European roots, you could explore some themes around that? Thanksgiving is a rich, sumptuous day that might transfer well to Eastern and Central European foods - poppy seed roll cake (which isn't usually super sweet when my family had made it) for breakfast or coffee breaks, slow roasts or rich paprikash as a main, lightly cooked veggies and/or salad to lighten it up as well as good tart pickled veggies as a counterpoint to rich stews, caramely dobos for dessert - ok that makes for some pretty intense cooking, but it's making me look forward to holidays with my Eastern European family.

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MMH
MMH November 5, 2017

Sometimes I just stroll the the produce aisle and choose what looks good. I like the idea of incorporating your background. I think the most important thing is that everyone has something they like. One year I asked each family member to name one "must have" and we made them all. My Mom made the same menus every year and my sister & I disliked everything but the turkey & mashed potatoes.

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ChefJune
ChefJune November 6, 2017

When I do turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving, I almost always do it with a Creole theme. Here are links to my recipes for the turkey and trimmings and the dressing:
https://food52.com/recipes..., https://food52.com/recipes...

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Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus November 15, 2017

My family is very large so for Christmas (and could be easily adapted for Thanksgiving - we do Turkey for both on the big day) we sometimes have additional smaller gatherings at an aunt's house for the local part of the family and do Feliz Navidad. For Thanksgiving I think a central Mexican theme would be really fun, think Oaxacan style - this cuisine is already heavy on squash and rich spices so I think it would translate well. Think roasted turkey breast or legs with a Pipian (pumpkin and sesame seed) sauce, elotes-style corn (street corn served with mayo, chili powder, queso fresco and lime zest - could be made into an off-the-cobb side), perhaps a butternut squash or pumpkin pie with a top or bottom layer of spiced chocolate (almond extract, cinnamon, a bit of chili if you like heat).

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