Thanksgiving: Gratitude Isn’t Just An American Thing

By Kayla Haubert

With Thanksgiving just behind, in all the excitement about the feast, it’s easy to forget that food is only one aspect of this beloved gluttonous holiday. Thanksgiving in America originally started as a celebration between the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians who shared a harvest feast in 1621. The tradition later became a national holiday in 1863 under President Abraham Lincoln. Thus began our tradition of a day of feasting and gratitude.

Yet, what many people don’t realize is that Thanksgiving is not only celebrated in America. Nine other countries, including Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Grenada, Norfolk Island, South Korea, Vietnam, and Liberia all commemorate this day with us because, let’s face it, gratitude is not just an American thing. Although the date, traditions, and customary Thanksgiving foods vary between these countries, the commonality is that it is a day reserved for gratitude, remembrance, and feasting.

Liberia is one of these countries. Founded in 1847 by freed American slaves, Liberia shares some similar holidays and traditions with the U.S., including Thanksgiving. Liberia literally comes from the Latin word for freedom, so they celebrate Thanksgiving on the first Thursday in November in order to commemorate their freedom from slavery and inhabiting a country of their own. Of course, Liberia puts their own flair into it, with music, dancing, and plenty of flavors, including cayenne pepper and native foods from the region.

If you’re trying to find a dish to bring to a holiday potluck this year, consider bringing something unique and characteristic of the true diversity that Thanksgiving represents. Liberian Pone is a traditional holiday dessert made from sweet potato and cassava, which is a staple root in Liberian cuisine, and it is sweetened up with vanilla, coconut, and sugar. A cross between bread pudding and cake and sliceable like banana bread but with all those fall feels, Liberian Pone is a delicious treat and the perfect segue to share the seemingly untold story of Thanksgiving in other cultures.

- Recipe Below -

Liberian Pone

From Homemade Zagat

Total Time: 1 hour, 65 minutes

Yield: 2 Loaves

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups grated sweet potatoes

1 cup grated cassava

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup grated pumpkin

2 cups grated coconut with liquid (if you don't have dried coconut use 1 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut)

3 tbsps melted shortening

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt Raisins (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat oven at 350

2. If using a dried coconut, open and separate "meat" from shell

3. Combine all grated ingredients: sweet potato, cassava, pumpkin and coconut (including liquid)

4. Add shortening, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and salt

5. Mix well

6. Add raisins (if desired)

7. Pour mixture into a greased dish (I used two bread pans since I like my pone thick)

8. Bake for 1 and a half hours or until pone leaves the side of the pan

9. Cool before cutting

Sources:

Cover Photo

Photo #1 Photo #2

 

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