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The Culinary Diversity Of Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, turkey plus or minus all kinds of things. Multicultural America giving Thanksgiving menus a multicultural kick.

Multicultural Thanksgiving

For holiday purists, traditionalists, part of the joy of Thanksgiving is that once a year menu that never changes.  The turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the cranberry sauce.  But there are so many traditions that merge in America today, and on America’s Thanksgiving Day tables.  In Chinese-American homes, that turkey may be a duck.  Or a Persian-American turkey with saffron and lime and eggplant on the side.  Or at a Latin American spread with chipotle and chili and leftover turkey in empanadas.  This hour On Point:  the global feast that is American Thanksgiving now.

– Tom Ashbrook


Reyna Simnegar, author of “Persian Food From The Non-Persian Bride: And Other Sephardic Kosher Recipes You Will Love.” (@KosherPersian)

Joanne Chang, pastry chef and owner of Flour, a Boston bakery and cafe. Chef and owner of the Asian restaurant Myers+Chang. Author of “Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery+Café” and “Flour Too: Indispensible Recipes for the Café’s Most Loved Sweets and Savories.” (@JBChang)

James Tahhan, chef and co-host of Telemundo’s morning show, “Un Nuevo Dia.” (@ChefJames)

From Tom’s Reading List

Food & Wine: Asian-American Thanksgiving — “As Taiwanese immigrants, my parents did their best to habituate me and my brother to American customs—we were ghoulish on Halloween, prematurely romantic on Valentine’s Day and, hopefully, suitably festive at Christmas, bringing sugar cookies to neighborhood potlucks and such. But for Thanksgiving, the closest we got to roasting “a nice big turkey” was making Peking duck, lacquered with honey and soy and stuffed with baby bok choy and slivered green onions.”

Latin Times: Chef James Tahhan Shares How To Prepare Holiday Meal With A Latin Twist — “One of my favorite recipes is a Mexican recipe from the Jalisco region, it’s called Birria. It’s one of my favorite recipes because it shows love. It is cooked for four hours and has big chunks of meat, or lamb, cooked in a very aromatic broth made with chiles and spices. It’s unbelievable. Especially, if you serve it in a tortilla. It’s one of the most amazing things you can eat to celebrate the holidays.”

Bon Appetit: 8 Weird Twists on Classic Thanksgiving Dishes – “Thanksgiving is America’s most traditional holiday meal, one with a national menu that every family follows in their own way year after year. For many of us, ‘traditional’ means those tried-and-true recipes from Grandma’s house (possibly ‘inspired’ by a supermarket supplement or ladies’ auxiliary cookbook from the ‘60s) that we look forward to on Thanksgiving. You may eat the same dishes every year—be they marshmallow-topped yams, straight-from-the-can cranberry sauce, or gummy white bread stuffing—but mess with the classics at your peril. Even the most experimental restaurant chefs throw in the towel at Thanksgiving and go for the crowd pleasers.”

See Our Blog For Thanksgiving Recipes From Our Guests

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  • Leonard Bast

    I highly recommend “What’s Cooking?” an overlooked film from 2000 written and directed by Gurinda Chadha. It portrays four diverse Los Angeles families (Hispanic, Jewish, Vietnamese, and African-American) as they celebrate Thanksgiving Day, each in their own way and each with their own tribulations and their own reasons to be thankful. And if you don’t become ravenously hungry watching them prepare the foods for their different feasts, then I can only wonder at your self-control.

    • northeaster17

      Gonna look at that

  • J__o__h__n

    Some food experts were on Fresh Air yesterday recommending to not put the stuffing in the turkey. Why bother making it then?

    • Leonard Bast

      I grew up in the South, where stuffing is almost never cooked inside the bird. It’s typically cooked in a baking dish and called “dressing” rather than stuffing. It’s delicious, though drier than stuffing.

      • Ray in VT

        That is how it was always done in my family, and we also call it dressing (sometimes). Perhaps this is an older usage. My mother also uses words like dungarees or rubbish, which my wife considers to be extremely old-fashioned.

        • Leonard Bast

          One of my old uncles used to call the sofa the “davenport.”

          • Ray in VT

            Yup. We had that term some. Did your family have a whatnot? In addition to the sofa, or couch, we also had a loveseat.

          • J__o__h__n

            Did the sofa/davenport have stuffing inside or was it in a box next to it and called dressing?

    • Don_B1

      I think it is because of the dangers of food poisoning if the stuffing is not separated from the bird carcass before putting the food away in the refrigerator after the “formal” dining is complete. Maybe it also has to do with the length of time spent at the table to eat that meal? Also, while the chicken juices (including the rendered fats) that flow into the stuffing in the course of its cooking, while adding flavor also can bring salmonella,etc., into the stuffing?

      I know I prefer the softer consistency of stuffing that was cooked in the bird over the crustier stuffing that was cooked outside the bird, but I recognize that with that pleasure comes the responsibility to handle the bird, stuffing and (prized!) leftovers carefully.

  • SuziVt

    Don’t forget the Vegan Thanksgiving. The table is spread with many delicious vegetable dishes, mushrooms, mashed potatoes & gravy, homemade dinner rolls, lovely salads, cranberry sauces, homemade spiced & steaming applesauce. Apple & pumpkin pies & pecan-chocolate tart. A TRUE bounty from the garden & no one has to die or live a life of suffering to compliment our celebration. No dead turkey centerpiece for us, thank you! H*A*P*P*Y T*H*A*N*K*S*L*I*V*I*N*G TO EVERYONE! ( :

    • J__o__h__n

      No Thanksgiving is complete without the vegans trumpeting their moral superiority.

      • SuziVt

        Yes, please, insecure & threatened people be certain to speak up & try to put down vegans for their choices. Don’t see that what is behind our lifestyle is a deep love of LIFE for all. I will be enjoying a very lovely Thanksgiving with 9 non-vegans. Thank goodness they are open minded & confident enough to embrace differences rather than attack them. I merely felt, for the turkey’s sakes, I wanted to put in a word for them. Life is possible without meat & that is what I have chosen. Please, my intent was not to attack you or any other meat eater & I don’t think that I did.

        • J__o__h__n

          You could have mentioned the merits of the vegetables without the comment “No dead turkey centerpiece for us, thank you!” Will there be a meat option for the 9 non-vegans?

          • northeaster17

            Nice to see someone sticking up for the marginalized and discriminated meat eaters of the world. Wow…..

          • SuziVt

            So sorry John, I guess that was rather harsh.

  • Unterthurn

    Indeed Thanksgiving is celebrated in Latein America. But the American Thanksgiving is not celebrated there. The American Thanksgiving you are talking about is a tradition of the people of the United States. Thanksgiving is celebrated in the church in the fall once on Sunday. Every church chooses their Sunday depending on when the Harvest has come in.

  • HonestDebate1

    Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton is eating fish for Thanksgiving. He is a pescatarian. Maybe Tom Brady should have tried it before he tangled with the mighty Panthers.


  • nkandersen

    Hey George!

    The recipe is available on our blog —> http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/11/27/thanksgiving-recipes-multicultural

    Happy Eating!

    -nick, on point web producer

    • George Gale

      Super! Tnx NK!

    • Theresa Weir

      hey fyi that recipe is garbled can you fix it? i made a guess and tried but would love to have the real thing. the ones you find googling around all have corn starch and are no bake

      • nkandersen

        We’ve tweaked it, and it should work out just fine now. Sorry for the confusion!

        – nick

        • Theresa Weir

          thanks so much, I had noticed, made second batch from new instructions! actually I had guessed right the first time :-) fyi the potato souffle also needs tweaking though I already made that too with veggie bacon yummmie thank you

  • Regular_Listener

    I had a great traditional Thanksgiving dinner – roast turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. For dessert there several pies – pecan, mincemeat, cherry, and pumpkin. There wasn’t any duck or eggplant or Persian dishes. It is not that those are bad things – personally, I love Asian cuisines – but Thanksgiving is an American holiday.

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