Our favorite Thanksgiving dishes and traditions

Thanksgiving is Thursday, November 24 this year, and Nosh has loads of East Bay-specific dining tips for the holidays. From the best pies to takeout ideas to daytime restaurants, we’ve got everything you need to make your Thanksgiving a success.

Every year around this time, I am reminded of how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area, with its multitude and variety of beliefs, interests, and traditions.

Few holidays make this more apparent than Thanksgiving, when some of us sit down to a huge turkey-centric feast, others of us just lean into it as a day off, and still others work. hard to make sure the rest of us are served.

While most of us here in Berkeleyside, The Oaklandside and East Bay Nosh aren’t on time Thursday, we’ll all get through the day in our own way. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving Day mealtime traditions we’ll be committing to this year.

Besides the relaxed fun of spending the day with dear old friends, my favorite part is afterwards, when we manage to sneak away with something we call a “piescraper” or “piefait” – a slice of each type of amazing pie in spread (thank you baker A.), stacked on top of each other, usually in a reused plastic yogurt pot. The goal is to plunge the fork vertically into all kinds of pies at once. —Joanna Della Penna, Nosh Openings and Closings columnist


Every year for Thanksgiving we go to my stepfather’s house in Hillsborough. We’re lucky if he’s in the mood for his carrot bisque as a first course (there were years when it was noticeably absent): the soup is a gorgeous shade of orange and tastes surprisingly bright thanks to a light zing of ginger. It’s the perfect aperitif before the big hitters of the night. —Paulina Barrack, Nosh Contributor


I always look forward to the jook or turkey congee made with leftover turkey carcass. The silky, flavorful porridge is a comfort food I grew up eating the day after Thanksgiving. In 2020, I decided my Thanksgiving table should include a dish of native origin, so I started with Sean Sherman’s simple corn cake recipe, and added mushrooms to it. I plan to do it again this year. They’re a wonderful (and gluten-free) alternative to stuffing and make a great base for the day after dish, turkey mince. —Shirley Huey, Nosh Contributor

It’s funny, Thanksgiving is some people’s favorite holiday. I grew up in a family where Thanksgiving was certainly honored… family and friends got together, we shared what we were grateful for, watched football, etc. . Depending on the year, we had burgers, or went to Chinese, or went to Las Vegas – pretty much anything but sitting down in the early afternoon to eat a feast of turkey and sides. As usual, this year, we’re having a barbecue… at dinner time! — Colleen Leary, Cityside Vice President, Client Partnerships


My favorite thing to do is the cranberry relish recipe that’s usually on the bag: cranberries, orange sugar. Sometimes I’ll have it cooked, sometimes just chopped. Always happy to have some to go with leftovers because it’s getting better and better. Honestly, my favorite thing to eat is a turkey sandwich with all the trimmings on the beach the next day. – Contributor Nosh / Ms. Stool Risa Nye


This year for Thanksgiving, I’m making my grandfather’s special dish: a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. (Don’t knock it down until you’ve tried it!) I’m forever grateful for the sweet and savory mix of the PB+P, the perfect combination of flavors to accompany me as I head outside to climb rocks. — Madeline Taub, Nosh Contributor


If I contribute to the meal, I make Chinese sticky rice (糯米饭). It’s my family’s comfort food and a crowd pleaser. I have to make enough so people can take the “leftovers” home. – Doug Ng, Director of Cityside Information Platforms

Weirdest thing I’ve ever done for Thanksgiving: One year my brother and I stuffed McDonald’s cheeseburgers. We bought half a dozen, chopped them up, tossed them with a little chicken broth and stuffed them into the poultry. The taste was strange, disgusting and delicious at the same time. (We talked about doing it again with the In-N-Out burgers, but never got around to doing it. Maybe this year!) —Nathan Dalton, Nosh Contributor


We don’t like turkey, so Thanksgiving is refrigerator cleaning day. He pulls out the electric stove and a can of probably expired shasha sauce. From the refrigerator, we collect the ingredients – frozen cuttlefish balls, minced lamb, yam noodles, nappa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, lotus root, tofu skins – which we first dip in boiling community bone broth, then into our own bowls of crispy chili and other seasonings. Over the hours, the broth takes on the flavors of all the ingredients that have been cooked in it, just like our sweaters which, at the end of the night, smell of pepper and meat. — Iris Kwok, environmental journalist at Berkeleyside


Every year, after leaving Thanksgiving dinner full of laughter and love, I return home to whip up a personal post-feast prank, which I devour on the couch, in front of my TV, all to myself. Since I have no family or dining room table worth hosting, I am at the request of kind hosts, one of whom is a culinary whimsical, who pulls off almost everything about Thanksgiving except the stuffing. My ideal starchy side is, like me, as pedestrian as possible – drenched with butter and broth and seasoned to less than an inch inedible, minus sausages, chestnuts, bacon, oysters, or fruit (dried or not). If you, too, yearn for a back-to-basics recipe untainted by the whimsy of California cooking, Cook’s Country’s version is a good place to start. —Brock Keeling, Nosh Contributor


Apple’s “Find My” app makes me miss where I grew up this year – I checked it earlier today to see where my husband had parked the car and noticed that all the humans that I am are at my mother’s house in Indiana, where she’s probably already started assembling the ingredients for her wild rice pilaf with artichokes and mushrooms, my favorite Thanksgiving dish. It’s full of savory, sweet and umami flavors, and it tastes like a vacation to me – I tried making this a few times about 25 years ago when I first moved to the Bay Area, but it never tasted the same as in his rural kitchen. Instead, from my California kitchen, I’m going to make Matt Horn’s Cheesy Potato Casserole, replacing the chicken soup with cream of mushroom soup, which everyone tells me tastes even better taste. (Confidential to MH: Even meat eaters make this claim, I’m just saying.) It’s even better the second day, so this year I started last night, and I’ll put it in the oven later today for reheating. tomorrow. — Eve Batey, editor of Nosh

Featured Image: Traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. Credit: Christopher Connell (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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