With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, homes across America will soon be filled with loved ones, laughter, and, perhaps most importantly, delicious food. Traditional Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie ceremoniously star in millions of Thanksgiving dinners. Many would argue that it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving dinner without these dinner staples. However, there really is no singular interpretation of Thanksgiving. With a country as diverse as ours, Thanksgiving dinners are inspired by regional and cultural backgrounds, treasured culinary traditions, and grandmas’ recipes. All of this creates a shared dinner that only you and your family can call your own.
The Spice House believes the foods we eat and spices we cook with are windows into diverse cultures and culinary traditions. Spices have the transcendent ability to transport us across the country, into another world, or back in time with a simple bite. With this curious spirit and Thanksgiving on our minds, we asked our employees to share some of their multicultural Thanksgiving traditions to spotlight the diverse cuisines that bring their families together.
Chicago + Texas + Polish Thanksgiving
I’m a native Chicagoan, my family is Polish by descent, and I spent my early childhood in Houston. This trifecta has led to an unbeatable Thanksgiving feast. While living in Houston, my family and I would go out for kolaches on Thanksgiving morning (klobasnek to the rest of the world, but always kolache to my Houston heart). My favorite of these savory stuffed pastries had jalapeños, cheese, and sausage. For dinner, we'd have fried turkey with cajun seasonings, pierogi, gołąbki, spicy cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole with cracked black pepper, all topped off with sweet potato pie made with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Tamales, Not Turkey, for Thanksgiving
Christina, Human Resources
When I was growing up, my extended family’s Thanksgiving tradition was to meet at my Tia Velia's house to make tamales. This was always at least a two day process. There’d be 20-25 family members making tamales around the table over laughter and jokes. When it was all done, we’d have made around 800 tamales. These tamales, made of ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, garlic, onion, and bay leaves, would be the first things to go at our Thanksgiving table. My mother also made carne guisada using Mexican oregano, garlic, onion, green bell pepper, Tellicherry peppercorns, and cumin. It was so delicious I always ended up skipping the turkey.
Thanksgiving in Taipei
My family’s Thanksgiving dinners have always consisted of Thanksgiving must-haves: a brined turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and corn pudding. And then we’d fill the rest of the table with hot-off-the-wok Chinese food. Our vegetables aren’t roasted. Rather, they’re stir-fried with garlic and Asian peppercorns, like Sichuan or Sansho. Seafood, specifically shrimp, always makes an appearance and is almost always sautéed with chiles, Tellicherry peppercorns, and fresh herbs. Finally, we’d have fresh pork and Chinese sausage that my mother stir fries with cumin and a few other secret seasonings and sauces that she still to this day won’t divulge.
A Proper Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Party
Eric, Old Town
In my Puerto Rican family, Thanksgiving is an occasion for a huge family party. At our Thanksgiving dinner, we have a brined, oven-roasted turkey and baked ham that is heavily seasoned with cloves. But, without a doubt, the star of our Thanksgiving dinner has always been lechon pork—seasoned with a medley of spices including cracked Tellicherry peppercorns, garlic, adobo seasoning, red peppers, green peppers, cumin, and fresh herbs. At our dinner, it’s always the lechon that puts everyone to sleep, not the turkey. To end our feast, we have sweet potato pies with nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon for dessert.
The Spice House family would love to hear from your family. Share your family's regional or multicultural Thanksgiving traditions with us by leaving a comment on Facebook, Instagram, or in the comment section below.