Thanksgiving around the nation


Gabrielle Jadotte

Thanksgiving platters tend to be the same throughout the United States, but there are some variance within the regions of the nation.

Thanksgiving has many meanings, from being a time of thankfulness, a reminder of historical events, to a time for Americans to splurge on food. Though Thanksgiving platters are fundamentally the same throughout the nation, with a large dish as a center piece and many smaller dishes as optional sides, there are some regional differences on what’s put on the table across America.

Some places in the north hold onto previous England influences on their dining tables and indulge in oyster stuffing and creamed onions, or in Maine, instead of having a turkey as the centerpiece, a lobster takes its place. In the north, the menu varies depending how far up you are, like New York-born, and current Wesley Chapel resident, Francesca LoMonaco explains.

“In the North, NY, NJ, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, they traditionally have roasted Turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce,” LoMonaco said. “Further north, New England you might find clams in the stuffing and apple pie on the menu.”

Despite the small differences amongst northern dishes put on the Thanksgiving tables, the platters remain relatively similar to the traditional turkey and mashed potato’s meal.

Different regions across the United States have different traditional dishes for their Thanksgiving platters, typically based on the cultures the states are made of and the temperament. (Gabrielle Jadotte)

“My favorite dish from [New York] is the stuffing that is cooked inside the Turkey,” LoMonaco stated. ”I like the fact that it comes out moist and has a savory flavor as the juices from the cooked turkey are also infused.”

The Midwest platter has slight divergences from the traditional Thanksgiving meal, mainly in the way the meals are cooked.  Michigan native, and former Wiregrass student, Addison Young, compares how her family’s thanksgiving platter was in Michigan compared to Florida.

“If Florida, my mom grills the Turkey; in Michigan my mom would have to put the turkey in the oven because it would usually be too cold,” Young explained. “We didn’t have access to fresher vegetables in Michigan because of the snowy weather.”

Beyond the temperature variance, the Midwest also holds many cultural differences to that of the south or north, and these said differences often impact the side dish on the Thanksgiving dining table. Michigan, for example, has a heavy polish influence due to a mass migration in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and their culture has ingrained itself in Michigan’s classic Thanksgiving meal.

“Michigan has a large polish population, and with my mom’s side being very polish, we would often get sauerkraut, kapusta, and Italian sausage,” Young said. “I like polish food and I just really happen to enjoy the taste of sauerkraut.”

Finally, the south- in all its fried, heart-stopping glory- holds its own divergences from the traditional Thanksgiving pallet. As a Florida native, our foods tend to have more fried and baked elements that would replace the dinner rolls and cranberry sauce. Another regional difference is the names for side dishes that can be found in other places, where the North and Midwest call it stuffing, the south calls the delicious side, dressing.

My favorite dish on the southern Thanksgiving table is the mac-and-cheese. Between baking the pasta in a coat of assorted cheeses or letting it slow cook in a pot on the stove, I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving meal without this addition. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is a shared holiday of foods, family and friends, and that is one aspect that doesn’t change based on where you live.