A Feast Inspired by No Turkey for Thanksgiving
by Alexie Basil, Alana Pedalino, and Hisami Aoki
In the spirit of expressing thankfulness for those around you, there is always room for plenty of unique traditions at the Thanksgiving table…and in the classroom!
After reading No Turkey for Thanksgiving by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter, you can host a potluck with your students! To help inspire your class, we’ve looked into the origins of an assortment of dishes that different cultures enjoy on this quintessential American holiday.
A roasted and stuffed turkey is considered to be traditional Thanksgiving fare—but sometimes you’ll even see them deep fried! Still, we wondered: Why do so many people eat turkey at Thanksgiving anyway?
It turns out that there were many, many wild turkeys near the first Thanksgiving in 1621—so it was a natural (and affordable) meal choice. In the late 1700s, Alexander Hamilton famously declared that no “citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.”
Starting in 1947 and continuing every year since, the National Turkey Federation has presented the president of the United States with a large, beautiful turkey for the First Family’s Thanksgiving meal—but since 1989, most presidents have elected to “pardon” the turkey.
For Thanksgiving, turkey is traditionally filled with bread crumbs, onion, celery, meat, and seasonings—depending on where you live, you may call this stuffing, dressing, or filling!
Did you know duck was served at the first Thanksgiving? That’s right—duck is just as “traditional” as turkey! According to the Smithsonian Museum, duck was probably prepared by boiling and then roasting, or vice versa. And they may have even been stuffed with a mixture of onions and herbs (much like how you might traditionally stuff a turkey).
Vegans and vegetarians are always welcome at the Thanksgiving table! Tofu turkey is a very popular plant-based alternative to a meat main course. It was invented in 1995 and, as the name suggests, is made with tofu. This meatless option has made the holiday more inclusive!
Chicken and Noodles
Chicken and noodles is a tasty combination found in many dishes from cultures around the world. In No Turkey for Thanksgiving, the family enjoys a version of chicken and noodles.
Another popular chicken-and-noodle dish is pad thai. One of the most popular Thai dishes (in both Thailand and the United States), pad thai is made with stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, shrimp or chicken, fish sauce, lime wedges, and roasted peanuts.
In Vietnamese cuisine, there is chicken pho. Pho is a light soup made from broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat.
And don’t forget chicken lo mein, which is a Chinese fried noodle dish!
Lamb is a popular meat choice overseas—like in Mongolia, New Zealand, Iceland, and (ironically) Turkey. While it’s not as common in the United States, some families serve roasted lamb for Thanksgiving.
The national dish of England is enjoyed in countries all over the world, including Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Usually one prepares a roast beef by baking or, as the name implies, roasting it over a long period of time. While thinner slices are common in sandwiches, thicker pieces tend to be served at more traditional meals.
If you want a particularly delicious and authentic enchilada, you should visit Mexico or the Southwestern United States! To make an enchilada, roll a corn tortilla around meats, cheeses, beans, vegetables, or potatoes—or all of the above (why settle for one when you can have the whole enchilada?!). Finally, douse it in chili pepper sauce and bake.
No matter what your students bring to your classroom Thanksgiving potluck, we hope you all have a fantastic time celebrating with one another. And, as always, we would love to see how your feast turns out! Share a photo with us on social media using the hashtag #ScholasticBookClubs.
These Books Are Available from Scholastic Book Clubs
’Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
No Turkey for Thanksgiving by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter
Strega Nona by Tomi dePaola
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto, illustrated by Ed Martinez