By Nolan Adelsky | November 22, 2021
Many students are tired of the traditional meals and some like Emma Burleson, class of 2025, would go as far to say that she “hates Thanksgiving food.” After hearing this I decided to ask several UAlbany students around our diverse campus about what their table looks like.
Since the seventeenth century, the autumn feast has been a widely celebrated holiday across North America to give thanks to the years’ harvest. The idea of an annual smorgasbord was prevalent among early colonists, but it wasn’t until 1789 when George Washington proclaimed a date in November to be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” Abraham Lincoln would further this and announce that this feast should be held on the last Thursday of Nov. The government at the time took this seriously and would pass legislation in 1870 to recognize this day as a federal holiday.
But what does this have to do with turkey?
The origin of feasting on turkey and cranberries is pretty simple. Turkeys were readily available and unique to America along with naturally abundant cranberries. However, since sugar was quite the luxury back then it is safe to say colonists likely missed out on cranberry sauce, unfortunately. Now that we live in a globalized world, we have students such as Brian Haberstroh, class of 2022, who only looks forward to Thanksgiving for football since we are still eating like a seventeenth-century colonist!
To get an idea of plates you can make to have a revolutionized Thanksgiving dinner this year, here are some dishes you should certainly try, recommended by UAlbany students:
Dequan Gordon (Class of 2022):
You may be surprised when you look
at Gordon's family dinner table and it is missing the symbolic bird, but you will not be upset when you smell the braised chicken and bacon as coq au vin is being served. This French dish is typically made up of chicken braised in wine, mushrooms and for Gordon’s family, bacon. He claimed that “if it's going to be the meal of the year, you should have everything.” With tha, he wished that ackee, a fruit-based dish native to West Africa and very popular across Jamaica, would be something everyone should have at their Thanksgiving table.
Jillian Bayoneto (Class of 2022): If you were sitting at Bayoneto’s dinner table, you would still be greeted with a main protein in the center but instead of a turkey you would see a pig! This is the lechón, simply meaning a roasted pig. It is an unofficial national dish of the Philippines and derives its name from Spain. If pig and turkey still aren’t your thing, maybe some white fish served pinaputok na tiliapa is more enticing. This dish bakes tilapia stuffed with onions, ginger and tomatoes that are bursting with flavor. Maybe your family needs something more mild and for that Jill would recommend normalizing Red Lobster Biscuits to go along with your dishes.
Alex St. George (Class of 2022): Perhaps you look forward to Thanksgiving more for the social family aspect and for that St. George would suggest getting together and making antipasto. This dish can be tailored to your tasting but is typically made up of assorted Italian bread, meats, olives, cheeses and vegetables. St. George’s favorite part of Thanksgiving is talking with his family as they work together on different parts of the antipasto.
If you are still needing an idea for a fun meal to bring to the Thanksgiving table, here are some top picks from other students that wish these foods were normalized on this national holiday:
“Korean Fried Chicken, you see it on my story every time I go home, it’s fire” – Ryan Yavinsky (Class of 2024)
“Bibimbap!” – Emma Levy (Class of 2024)
“Egg Babka or Olivier Salad, when I see my mom chopping those eggs you know something good is coming” – Dan Koskas (Class of 2022)
“BBQ stuff like burgers and fries” – Luke Connelly (Class of 2022)
“Ravioli- just like the square ones” – Emma Burleson (Class of 2025)
Bring something new to your table this Thanksgiving dinner, and attempt one of these dishes. It may just be your family’s new favorite and they will be asking for it every year.