Here Are The Top 5 Thanksgiving Trends For 2021

Gourmet Fancy Charcuterie Board

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Well last year on Thanksgiving a lot of family gatherings were done over zoom or people just had much smaller gatherings due to COVID. But this year things seem to be getting somewhat back to normal, so lets talk Thanksgiving food!

To get an idea about what's in store for Thanksgiving this year, a reporter from USA Today sat down and chatted with Kara Nielsen, director of Food & Drink for WGSN, a global authority on consumer and design trends. Kara's job is all about spotting and guessing what trends will be next in the food world, and she had tons to share. 

Broadly speaking, last year was more about survival, Nielsen told the Courier Journal, and this year as we return to what we’ll call normal (I guess?), it’s more about comfort — and that definitely means some comfort foods.

So here are the top 5 yummy trends you may have at your Thanksgiving this year: 

1.How to do a charcuterie board for Thanksgiving

Charcuterie boards have blown up to an all-encompassing put-it-on-a-board approach to food presentation. A trend that was bubbling up prior to COVID-19, Nielsen says, boards were thwarted by the pandemic when we weren’t exactly serving a dozen people at a time.
“It’s a suspended trend that’s picking back up,” she says. So what does that mean for Thanksgiving this year? Nielsen says we might see everything from appetizer boards to dessert boards as people have fun with beautiful holiday presentations.

2.Order a takeout Thanksgiving meal

The coronavirus pandemic changed how restaurants operate and how we think about meals. A takeout Thanksgiving “is being driven by restaurants and food outlets that have gotten really expert at delivery menus during COVID-19,” Nielsen says. “We have, as consumers, delighted in more kinds of restaurant food at home."
There have always been people looking for packaged holiday meals at the supermarket, she says. And “now that we’ve been practicing that [takeout] behavior for so many months,” it will come naturally, especially for people who may not be up for preparing the whole meal themselves, to bring some of that expertise to the holiday table. 

3.Plan for gluten-free, vegetarian Thanksgiving guests

The days of a big plate of turkey with a few supporting dishes leaning heavily on meat, gravy and traditional stuffing may also be behind us. With the rise in popularity of plant-based foods, we can expect to see meals with something for everyone, Nielsen says, whether that’s vegan options, gluten-free, or other dietary restrictions. 
“Everybody feels entitled to have food that works for them,” she says, and meal alternatives have really been picking up steam; it’s not just Tofurkey anymore. Hosts want to make sure everyone has something that appeals to them, and not only do plant-based dishes offer more options, but they can also “show off the delicious vegetables and food items of the season.”

4.Apples are the trend for holiday drinks, desserts

How about drinks? Apples aren't just for pie anymore, and it’s here in a big way, Nielsen says, along with pear, when it comes to both alcoholic and alcohol-free holiday drinks. Apple is showing up everywhere from spiked seltzer to beer and cocktails, and pear is making a strong showing as well. They make sense from a seasonal perspective; how yummy does a whiskey cocktail with a spiced pear syrup sound in chilly November?
Speaking of whiskey, another growing trend is fancy holiday treats with whiskey flavor profiles. Think bourbon-flavored maple syrup, for example, or bourbon in jam or pie.

5.Showcase regional, indigenous foods at Thanksgiving

Societal shifts are also causing us to look anew at the Thanksgiving tradition, Nielsen says, “with a new lens of respecting Native Americans and Native American tradition ... also, as part of this, recognizing their contributions to the table and also [recognizing] the contributions of Black cooks to the American table and the holiday table.”
Nielsen went on, saying that “a lot of people are reconsidering our food culture in America and kind of looking past some of those lessons that we were taught or myths of the table."


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