Non-traditional family dishes add spice to Thanksgiving meals

The staff at Senior Life gathered to sample some potential additions for Thanksgiving this year.

It is clear what Thanksgiving Day is all about — giving thanks.

And it is no doubt that the centerpiece of this American celebration is the food — the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberries, sweet potato casserole, hot rolls and pumpkin pie. That is a tradition for which to be thankful.

But when the Pilgrims and Native Americans got together for that first harvest Thanksgiving, the menu may have included wild turkey, venison and fish. There likely was no potatoes or cranberry sauce as we know it today. And there most certainly was no pumpkin pie because they did not have flower or butter.

What we know as the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal has evolved, changed and been added to. As immigrants followed the pilgrims many decades later, they added their own side dishes to the traditional turkey and dressing.

"We always had black beans and rice," said Sylvia Montes, the office manager at Bluewater Creative Group.

In some Latin Caribbean nations, rice and beans cooked together is called Congri. In Central America, a similar dish is called Gallo Pinto. It is a staple in many Latin American households and is added to the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Those of other heritage added their own dish. "There was always an Italian dish for all the holidays," said Adam Palumbo, the art director for Bluewater Creative Group, whose father is Sicilian.

Publisher Jill Blue’s family shared a recipe that was always a part of the Thanksgiving Day meal.

"My mother always made a frozen fruit salad and pecan pie." she said.  "My dad didn’t cook, but he had a blast carving the turkey."  VV

Viera Voice will share recipes online from some of our business partners beginning Nov. 15.