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15 Best Moments at an Arab American Thanksgiving

posted on: Nov 23, 2016

BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer

1. When Mama yells at everyone for not helping her cook or clean

It’s inevitable for Mama to yell at everyone, so you might as well enjoy one more hour of sleep before joining her in the kitchen.

2. Rolling grape leaves for HOURS

It takes several hours to roll enough grape leaves to feed an Arab American family. The host needs all the back-up they can get!

3. Watching everyone show up late

It means you get more time to get ready. Everyone else is eating Thanksgiving dinner at 3 pm, but Arab Americans aren’t even arriving until 6 pm.

4. Making sure the grape leaves taste good

The whole house smells amazing, but only one dish is done and that’s the waraq inab. Thus, everyone in the house must try 1-10 grape leaves to make sure they’re good.

5. Watching the lamb come out of the oven

Sure, there will be turkey, but everyone is fighting over the lamb leg.

6. The political discussions before, during, and after dinner

It starts off with what seems like a friendly debate, but then it really heats up during dinnertime when your uncle says something to upset the millennials. The family comes back together after dinner for one more debate about historic leaders and the way things should have been.

7. When everyone asks “shoo haath?” while pointing to a super American dish

There’s always one or two family members who have embraced more American dishes than others. Cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, cornbread, and sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows are among the dishes that get questioned every year by your older Arab relatives.

8. The Arak

This is the one time of the year that Teta lets herself drink arak so she brings the best bottle. Everyone indulges in the strong spirit, which once repulsed us as kids.

9. Baba carves the turkey

He takes pride in his carving abilities, but we all know he has no idea how to cook a turkey.

10. Politely trying the dish of your uncle’s non-Arab wife

Poor Aunt Michelle. She tried making kifta wa botata for Thanksgiving, which everyone totally appreciates. But it’s just not that good.

11. Dipping the turkey into hummus

Hummus is touching everything on that plate, so just embrace the turkey/hummus combination because it’s delicious.

12. The scary over abundance of food

The host never thinks there’s enough food, so everyone brings food with them. Now there are leftovers for weeks, but no one’s mad because the food is fantastic.

13. The Arab desserts



Homemade knafeh, baklawa, namoura, and qatayef fill the dessert table, along with strong Arabian coffee. This is the one day a year it’s acceptable to eat all four desserts in one sitting so no one is shy.

14. The “bumbkin bie” a.k.a American desserts

Arab Americans love the traditional desserts of their ancestors, but we have fully embraced the deliciousness of American pies. Pumpkin, apple, cherry, pecan, you name it, we love it.

15. The music

Each uncle brings an oud or a tableh to play after dinner. Those without instruments sing and clap along to the music. One bold aunt will always get up to belly dance.