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Some of the typical dishes that accompany the Thanksgiving evening. Photo: Alicia Bruce
Get a look at some of the typical dishes that accompany a Thanksgiving meal. Photo: Alicia Bruce

Why are these traditional Thanksgiving dishes?

Get to know the history behind some of the typical dishes that accompany the Thanksgiving celebration.

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Thanksgiving is a day when people gather around the table to celebrate and give thanks for all the good (and not so good) that happened during the year. The celebration is usually surrounded by certain typical dishes, mostly sweet and savory mixtures with spicy aromas that give that feeling that Autumn is at its peak.
 
To know why these dishes are the ones you usually see for these dates, first one must understand a little of the history behind the day. 
 
In 1621, the English Pilgrims invited the Native Americans of Plymouth (now Massachusetts) to celebrate the Autumn harvest. They wanted to thank them for their help, for without them, the work would not have been possible. The dinner went down in history as a time when, regardless of race, people sat down in peace to share a table.
 
However, although Thanksgiving dinner as we know it today has its roots in the event, it did not begin to become a tradition until the 19th century.
 
Now, here's the story behind the most representative dishes of the holiday: 
Stuffed turkey 
The traditional dish, which has become a staple of Thanksgiving dinner, began to appear because the hunting of the bird, which is endemic to the region, increases in November.
 
Although each family usually cooks it in their own way, in general, it is prepared by baking it for hours until the skin is golden brown and the meat is very juicy.
 
Traditionally, the turkey is stuffed with stale bread, onion, celery, parsley, rosemary, sage, butter and turkey stock.
Sweet potatoes 
Among the vegetables harvested by those Native Americans in 1621 were several roots and potatoes, among which the sweet potato was the favorite.
 
This potato usually accompanies the turkey as a puree, mixed with orange juice and a little cinnamon to give it a more autumnal flavor. The sweet potato is cooked in milk, so that it acquires a creamy texture, the fibers break down more easily and it acquires a milky flavor that cuts the citric flavors of its mixture. 
Mashed potatoes 
Mashed potatoes are by far the most popular Thanksgiving dish, and there's a good reason for that. 
 
This root vegetable was also part of the produce grown in Plymouth when the first Thanksgiving dinner happened, which is why it's still used to this day in honor of those early Native Americans who shared the dish. 
Pecan Pie
The sweet part of the Thanksgiving menu is filled with a sweet pecan pie. 
 
This dessert consists of a pecan pie mixed with a filling of eggs, butter and sugar. Variations may include white or brown sugar, cane syrup, sugar syrup, molasses, maple syrup or honey. 
 
Pecans are native to the southern United States. Archeological evidence found in Texas indicates that Native Americans used pecans more than 8,000 years ago and to this day they remain traditional in various celebrations.
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