What is an African American Thanksgiving Dinner?


I hear your thoughts, “What do you mean African American Thanksgiving Dinner?  Is there such a thing?”  Yes…there is.  However, before delving into a typical dinner for African Americans, let’s preface it with “most people desire turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving.”  Having said that…there is a difference between a Thanksgiving dinner for whites and one for blacks.  The key ingredient is seasoning.  Even with the “turkey-dressing thing,” there is a marked difference.  Believe me, I have eaten dinners in both houses. 


First of all, the turkey should be baked until the outside is light brown.  This is not to say, cook it until it is “bone dry,” but don’t remove it from the oven until it gets a little brown.  It can still be moist and juicy inside, but the outside should not be white.  Of course, a mixture of celery, bell pepper and onions in melted margarine should be placed inside the “bird” before baking, and pepper and salt mixed with melted margarine rubbed on the outside. 

Then… there’s the dressing!  You know dressing at Thanksgiving for black folks has to be heavily seasoned.  First, you have to start off with “good cornbread!”  It should be seasoned as though you were going to eat it.  Then …things like lots of drippings from the turkey, sage, margarine, celery, bell pepper, onions, practically every spice that does not belong in a dessert, are just a few of the ingredients.   Throwing in some bread crumbs purchased from a store give it great versatility.  I like to add two or three lightly beaten eggs along with margarine to make sure it is highly seasoned.  African Americans love that “soul-food” taste!  Side note:  After Thanksgiving, go very lightly on highly seasoned foods. 


The centerpiece of the dinner is “turkey and dressing,” but don’t forget the candied yams, collard greens, fried corn, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy!  My sister likes to have chitterlings.  Even though I enjoy eating that delicacy, I am not into preparing them!  So… my dinner is minus the chitterlings.  Oops… I forgot the rolls!  In my younger days, I made the rolls from scratch…now, I just buy them!  The dinner is rounded off with pumpkin or sweet potato pie, topped with ice cream.  Yum, yum!  For a second dessert, there is nothing better than a well-prepared apple pie.  The crust has to melt in your mouth, or it is not a pie I would place on my table!

That’s it!  Come as you are…dinner is ready!