Modern Thanksgiving foods, such as turkey, corn and pumpkin pie, are somewhat reminiscent of the cuisine enjoyed by the pilgrims as they gathered for a harvest feast in 1621 with the Native Americans at Plymouth Rock in America. The feast was a carryover tradition from England, and the pilgrims dined on meats, vegetables and fruits that were readily available to them, such as fowl and berries. Freshly harvested vegetables are often included in Thanksgiving feasts, along with bread and rolls. A variety of side dishes and desserts round out the holiday meal, including pecan pie, fruit salad and green bean casserole.
While it is believed that fowl was served at the early harvest feast, turkey is the star of the traditional Thanksgiving foods served today. Usually, turkey breast, turkey legs or the whole bird are cooked for the holiday meal. When the bird is cooked whole, its cavity is often filled with bread stuffing. The time it takes for a whole turkey to cook is increased when the bird is stuffed as opposed to when its cavity is hollow. Other meats, including ham, duck and pot roast, are also served at Thanksgiving Day feasts.
Stuffing is often one of the favorite choices of all the Thanksgiving foods on a holiday table. Ingredients in stuffing vary widely in different regions of the world, and include raisins, apples and oysters. Bread and rolls are also typical holiday fare, as are a variety of side dishes, including sweet potato pie and carrots. Green bean casserole, corn and fruit salads are often served on Thanksgiving.
Cranberries are often paired with turkey, and are served whole and jellied. Thanksgiving foods also include cranberry-flavored desserts and salads, including gelatin molds, and marshmallow and fruit salads. Pumpkin is another traditional flavor at Thanksgiving, and is served in pies, bars and muffins. Potatoes, both white and sweet, are also served baked, mashed and boiled. Turkey gravy is also typically offered at Thanksgiving.
Relish trays with finger foods, such as olives, pickles and cheese cubes, can also be found on Thanksgiving tables. Desserts are popular Thanksgiving foods and include pies, such as pecan, apple and custard. Pies are often topped with whipped cream. A variety of cakes, cupcakes and cobblers are also served for dessert, including pineapple upside down cake, cherry cobbler and chocolate cupcakes. Bread pudding is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, and eggnog is also a common holiday drink.