The centrepiece of a traditional Thanksgiving in the US is a large meal, generally centered around a large roasted turkey. Many Americans would say that this meal is “incomplete”without cranberry sauce; stuffing or dressing; and gravy. We decided to skip the cranberry sauce because no one really likes it anyway! Other commonly served dishes include winter squash, yams, mashed potatoes, dumplings, noodles, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, peas and carrots, bread rolls, and cornbread. For dessert, various pies are often served, particularly apple pie, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.
Some of my friends in South African have been asking what we ate on Thanksgiving. Being an American holiday, we do not celebrate this holiday down south, so our knowledge is based purely on what we see “in the movies”. I tried to get a few pictures of what we ate, and I have added some info about the dishes too.
Turkey is the most common main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes this holiday is referred to as “Turkey Day”. The average Thanksgiving turkey weighs 15 pounds and is comprised of 70% whte meat and 30% dark meat. In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations. There is no official reason for the use of turkey. That just happened to be the most plentiful meat available at the time of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, starting the tradition.
Justin and his dad carve the turkey.
I had never heard the statement that eating turkey makes you sleepy. This must be an American concept due to the large amount of turkey consumed around Thanksgiving. Being interested in nutrition, I looked into this subject to find out if it was true, and apparently it is not.
One of the most widely believed food myths is the idea that eating turkey can make you sleepy. This is often used as justification for why you may feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving/ Christmas meal. The reason for this belief is based on the fact that turkey contains tryptophan (an amino acid that makes you sleepy). However many other foods contain tryptophan, including most animal products like meats and cheese. Beef contains more tryptophan than turkey, but it is never blamed for sleepiness, probably because it is not associated with enormous holiday meals like turkey is.
Generally, when a large meal is consumed it tends to make you sleepy regardless of what the meal contained. This is because the digestive processes draw energy from other body parts, leaving you with an overall feeling of tiredness. Additionally, meals that are high in carbohydrates tend to induce an insulin surge, which can leave you feeling flat and tired after it passes.
Most Thanksgiving turkeys are stuffed with bread-based stuffing and roasted. Sage is the traditional herb added to the stuffing (also called dressing), along with chopped celery, carrots, and onions. Deep-fried turkey is rising in popularity, requiring special fryers to hold the large bird.
Green Bean Casserole
This dish consists of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and french fried onions. Some recipes may also include ground black pepper and/or soy sauce. It is a popular Thanksgiving side dish in the United States.
Yam or Sweet Potatoes….? These are in fact sweet potatoes. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but really they are two different vegetables.
Sweet potatoes are yellow/ orange and elongated with ends that taper to a point. There are two main types of sweet potato. The paler-skinned sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin with pale yellow flesh which is not sweet and has a dry, crumbly texture similar to a white potato. The darker-skinned variety (often referred to as a “yam” in error) has a thicker, dark orange to reddish skin with a vivid orange, sweet flesh and moist texture.
Yams have a brown or black skin which resembles the bark of a tree and off-white, purple or red flesh, depending on the variety.
Gravy made from the turkey fat ~ Very tasty.
Dessert: “Orange Salad”
(Cool whip, oranges, orange jell-o and cottage cheese)
A delicious Apple Pie served with vanilla ice cream.
Of course, one of the best parts of a meal like this is all of the leftovers!
We had a great Thanksgiving and I am sure that next November we will be sitting in Asia thinking back fondly on all of the yummy food that we got to eat this week!!