Thanksgiving Across the Country

Isabella DiGiulio

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Close your eyes and picture the traditional Thanksgiving meal. What comes to mind? Probably a turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and for dessert pumpkin pie. Though this might not be the case for every American household. 

Depending on where you live in the United States you might be having a different meal than others. In the Southeast it’s common to have gumbo, crawfish, deviled eggs, and fried oysters on your Thanksgiving table. You’ll find several kinds of macaroni and cheese along with pickled okra and collard greens in the South. If you go up north common side dishes in New England include creamed onions and corn on the cob. Following the main course is the dessert Hasty pudding, which consists of cornmeal, molasses, brown sugar, and spices, is also eaten in New England.

Not only can food vary from region to region it can also differ based on which state you live in. Turkey tamales are occasionally eaten in Texas, and in New Mexico and Arizona pumpkin pie is replaced by pumpkin empanadas. Because of the Italian-American population in states like New Jersey and New York pasta is usually eaten before the turkey. Crab cakes are seen in Maryland along with sauerkraut due to the German influence. 

Some places have twists on typical Thanksgiving foods. Take Texas who, instead of baking their turkey, have it fried. Hawaii also has a twist to their turkey, which is often smoked kalua style. In regions like the Pacific Northwest and New England stuffing is made from oysters and clams, while it’s made from cornbread in the South. Rather than a traditional pumpkin pie many states and regions prefer a variety of pies for dessert including sweet potato pie and pecan pie from the South, cherry pie from the Midwest, and key lime pie from Florida. 

Thanksgiving is such an important holiday in America with family coming together to show gratitude to one another and share a large meal together. It’s interesting to see how different cultures affect the kinds of food at the Thanksgiving table along with regional influences.