Beyond standard Thanksgiving foods like turkey and mashed potatoes, students from different regions of the United States said some foods, like poke and sweet potato pie, make it to their Thanksgiving tables. Students also share some of their Thanksgiving memories involving football games and managing the aftermath of hurricanes.
Nathalie Trow-McDonald, a senior from Louisiana majoring in communications, shared one Thanksgiving after Hurricane Irma, her family and the other families in the area decided to put together a Thanksgiving dinner even though they were without electricity.
For the dinner, McDonald said everyone listed their favorite pie, from chocolate to pumpkin, and then various members of the group made everyone’s favorite pie.
“Everyone got to feel special and feel like they were at home even if they weren’t. . . We felt normal in the midst of it, not being normal.”
Alexandra Athans, a senior from Pupukea majoring in intercultural peacebuilding, said, “Our Thanksgiving is a little different than the American green bean casserole.” She described having dishes such as poke, poi, imu turkey and ham at her Thanksgiving table.
“We wrap the turkey and ham … and [add] seasoning. We build a hole, and we cook it in the ground.” Athans said this is the only way she will eat turkey because it makes the meat moist rather than dry. “The meat is so moist, and I like to dip the meat in the poi.”
According to McDonald, it is common in Louisiana to deep-fry turkeys. She shared that fire departments in her area always get called to house fires caused by people attempting to deep-fry a turkey.
McDonald said baked macaroni and cheese is her favorite Thanksgiving food. “Ham and mac & cheese… half of my plate is probably that.” Last Thanksgiving, while in Hawaii, McDonald said not having baked “mac and cheese” at the YSA dinners made her homesick, so she and a friend decided to make the dish themselves.
Lauren Tipps, a sophomore from Tennessee majoring in political science, said grits, apple cider and hashbrown casserole are some of the dishes you will see around her family’s table. She added that her mother’s hashbrown casserole is her favorite because it is cheesy and reminds her of home.
Tipps also described her family’s typical Thanksgiving Day. “We play football, watch football, eat food and take naps.” Tipp’s family has a love for football, so it is a large part of their holiday, she shared.
According to many of the students interviewed, dessert is one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. McDonald shared pumpkin pie is her favorite dessert, but it is not necessarily something you can easily find in the South.
Though McDonald spent most of her childhood in Louisiana, her family also previously lived in Massachusetts. She said since pumpkin pie is her mother’s favorite, her family has it every year.
Meanwhile, Athans said you will always find Ted’s Bakery pies, haupia crunch and ice cream at her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Tipps said pecan, pumpkin and chocolate pies are some of the desserts her family has for the holiday, along with hot chocolate.