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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is Your Thanksgiving Menu Traditional, Cultural or Geographical?

by brettmerritt (bio)

As I was gorging myself on Thanksgiving Day leftovers, I got thinking about how awesome the day was. Of course, I spent much of the last week thinking about how blessed my life is but in that particular moment I was happy about the food.

Amelia baked so many new dishes this year: butter & herb turkey, carrots and parsnips, parmesan cauliflower, maple and brown sugar yams, glazed pearl onions, cornbread sausage stuffing, and more. It's compounded in awesomeness because she has only cooked Thanksgiving dinner three times in her life. These dishes were different and amazing.

However, growing up in Utah and Colorado, the menu was always the same from year to year. We either ate at home for Thanksgiving or at my Grandma's house. We'd have turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, olives, marshmallow yams, jello salad, baked carrots, celery sticks and peanut butter, and rolls. I always loved knowing what I was going to eat for dinner that day. It was always delicious too.

On my mission to Alabama, the two Thanksgivings (and six meals I ate) had a great mixture of traditional and local dishes. One meal we were served BBQ chicken, collard greens, sweet potato pie, and chitlins. (I loved everything but the chitlins which are boiled pig intestines. I still ate them.)

As I've gotten older, I've appreciated a little more variety and surprise in the menu. It's probably why I loved what my wife did this year so much and why we're already excited for next year (or Christmas).

This has all got me thinking. Not everyone has the same menu across the board for Thanksgiving Dinner. So, I'm looking for your input. Is the most anticipated meal of the year determined by geographical or cultural factors or both? Are we following traditions or blazing our own trail? Are there foods that people eat in California that they don't eat in Maine? What about farmers versus inner city residents? Do Mormons eat different dishes than the Baptists, Jews, Atheists or Catholics? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.

Image via Flickr.

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