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Why Thanksgiving in Alaska is Epic

by ATJ Posted in I ♥ Alaska |
Image used from Creative Commons License by Doug Brown

Image used from Creative Commons License by Doug Brown

What came first…the chicken or the egg?  Who really cares when we’re approaching Thanksgiving Day!  This is the time of the year when the chicken takes a backseat to the turkey, right?  Wait a second, we’re dealing with Alaska.  Alaskans do eat turkey, correct?

Of course they do.  But, consider the fact that Alaska is a magical land with great opportunities for people to actually hunt and gather foods for their own unique Thanksgiving feast.  Given these opportunities, do both the chicken and turkey now take a back seat?  Well…kind of.  Let’s fill in some details by looking at some authentic Alaskan Thanksgiving dishes.

You Can Ditch the Turkey

Turkey can still take center stage if you’re celebrating a Thanksgiving in Alaska, but it doesn’t have to.  Hunters can top their Thanksgiving table with a fresh Ptarmigan or goose.  Alaska enjoys large populations of tasty and highly sought after trophy birds.  Simply contact a guide service to better assist in hunting the Thanksgiving fowl of your choice!

Ditch a Bird Altogether

In Alaska, your Thanksgiving meal does not have to center around a bird in the least bit.  For example, a traditional Thanksgiving in the Aleutian Islands means plating up octopus burgers using freshly caught octopus harvested from local tide pools.

Raw Whale Meat?

Many native villages in Alaska do celebrate the holiday with a store-bought turkey.  However, you’ll easily spot several local delicacies along side the birds. Some of these include: reindeer stew, moose roast, stuffed moose hearts and even raw whale meat served frozen in bite-size pieces.


Eggs Lead the Way

A favorite Thanksgiving side dish in Juneau is a salad made from eggs.  But not just any eggs.  We’re talking herring eggs.  Herring egg salad is fairly easy to make and it incorporates fresh eggs from native Pacific herring.

Leave the Canned Cranberries at the Grocery Store

One of the most popular side dishes normally associated with Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce.  For many, this dish is a no brainer to make because it can easily be found in a can at the supermarket.  Many in Alaska, however, consider the high bush cranberry to be one of the best fruits the state produces.  The cranberries themselves can typically be picked in late summer through early fall and quite often make a Thanksgiving appearance in a delicious high bush cranberry sauce.

Nigliq Soup

If you’re having issues with breaking completely away from the traditional Thanksgiving meal, nigliq soup might be the perfect way to ease into a tradition-free realm.  Nigliq is a greater white fronted goose that is prevalent in Western Alaska.  The goose can be used to create a yummy soup that serves well with a traditional turkey, yams and cranberries.

What about the Salmon?

Salmon form an integral element within Alaska’s culture, communities and livelihood.  It would be simply nonsensical if a salmon dish failed to appear, in some form, on a holiday table in Alaska. Smoked salmon makes an excellent appetizer to start things off on Thanksgiving Day.  However, a bit more creative dish is salmon pate, which pairs perfectly with crackers or on baked bread.

We all know that Alaska can easily translate into an epic adventure.  However, the state can also mean an epic Thanksgiving.  Alaska is so rich and abundant in terms of wildlife and vegetation that it offers a perfect setting for a person to actually forage for the holiday meal.  Don’t get bored with that same old turkey.  Get daring, get to Alaska, and get your hands on some frozen whale meat!

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