Taste of Tuscaloosa: (Non)Traditional Thanksgiving Food

It's a guarantee that any Thanksgiving get together in my hometown of Fort Payne, AL will include multiple cousins, aunts, uncles, and various Filipino dishes sprinkled among the more traditional casseroles and desserts each November.  It's a guarantee that any Thanksgiving get together in my hometown of Fort Payne, AL will include multiple cousins, aunts, uncles, and various Filipino dishes sprinkled among the more traditional casseroles and desserts each November.  Sheena Gregg

Traditional Thanksgiving favorites such as turkey, pumpkin pie, and sweet potato casserole are staples to be expected on every table during that certain Thursday in November. However, every family seems to have their own spin on Thanksgiving with one or two dishes that are their special traditions.  

For me as a proud Filipino American, you can expect to have all your traditional Thanksgiving dishes plus the flair of Filipino food. Egg rolls, pancit (a rice noodle dish), and steamed rice are just as expected as cranberry sauce and green bean casserole. Turns out, I have some other friends in Tuscaloosa that have their own “family flair” with some unexpected Thanksgiving dishes. 

Mary Mowery, Tuscaloosa   

In our family, there’s a certain finger sandwich that always appears on our Thanksgiving table. My grandmother Lucy called them stack sandwiches, others called them ribbon sandwiches, and now they seem to be known as Waverly sandwiches. Theyre alternating layers of homemade pimiento cheese, plain white bread, and peanut butter and jelly.  

These sandwiches made their way to Thanksgiving when my mother, Inez, started taking them and before long, her in-laws were converts to the stack sandwich. After 66 years in the family, they know she owns that dish.  

Paige Sims, Northport  

Pineapple casserole is a family favorite at our Thanksgiving. I’m 38, and I honestly don’t remember not having it at Thanksgiving.  My great aunt, Betty Jo Price, has always made it. When my husband and I started dating, I began the tradition of taking it to his family Thanksgiving. His niece is vegetarian and has ties back to Hawaii and absolutely loves it. It gave her something else to eat when most options had some type of meat tied back to them.  

The recipe we use is literally canned pineapple chunks in juice, cheese, a little sugar, flour, cheddar cheese, and topped with Ritz crackers and then drizzled with melted butter. I think we love it because it’s sweet but also comforting. It is something that just breaks up the same old same old of the other casseroles. 

Chris DaSambiago-Moore, Northport   

We always have rice, black beans, and plantains at Thanksgiving – which my mom cooks. She will also do Cuban styled pork. These are Cuban staples of any sort of festivity. They’ve been at the Thanksgiving table since I was a kid for as long as I can remember. My stepdad is Argentinian, so we also have empanadas (a meat pastry), and Argentinian bistec (tender steak). Dessert is always a combo of either tres leches cake (Cuban), or homemade dulce de leche (Argentinian Caramel).  

Sheena Gregg is a registered dietitian and local “Filipino Foodie.” Follow her adventures at afilipinofoodie.com. 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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