Discover highlights from early Charlotte Thanksgiving menus and find inspiration for this year’s meal with our cookbook collection.
Learn more about this city’s history using the Charlotte Observer archives with your Library card!
The Main Course
Early 20th century menus weren’t limited to turkey. The Hotel Buford’s 1907 Thanksgiving menu included sweetbread cutlets and game croquettes, and a 1919 ad featured roast pig, chicken salad and escalloped oysters. The 1924 Hotel Charlotte menu featured goose, duck and squab. Reinvent your main course this year with these suggestions.
- If oven space is at a premium, try a recipe from The Ultimate Turkey Fryer Cookbook—just be sure to follow safety instructions!
- Pardon a turkey by going meatless this year. Joy Pierson’s Vegan Holiday Cooking from Chandle Cafe, Marie Laforet’s The Vegan Holiday Cookbook, and Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates and Gaz Oakley’s Vegan Christmas cover the major holiday celebrations.
- If you’re a traditionalist, watch Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home with chefs Julia Child and Jacques Pepin for every step of the turkey process—from stuffing to gravy. For more cooking videos, visit Films on Demand.
Popular side dishes from a 1917 Piedmont Lunch Room menu and Nov. 29, 1928, advertisements included celery hearts celery and olives. If stuffed celery isn’t your ideal side, never fear. The Library has a cornucopia of cookbooks for the perfect Thanksgiving side dishes.
- Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month with Sean Sherman’s The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen or Foods of the Americas, both of which feature essays and recipes of North and South American indigenous people.
- Crescent Dragonwagon’s Bean by Bean is full of alternatives to the green bean casserole. It's worth a look just for the author’s name.
- More than 400 recipes for nearly every vegetable and grain are featured in Rick Rodgers’ Big Book of Sides.
Plum pudding and mince pies were common at the turn-of-the-century Thanksgiving tables. As the century progressed, ads hawked turkey-shaped ice cream molds while a 1922 “Observers’ Housewives Exchange” column featured complex recipes like crystallized mint leaves and almond canapes. Here are a few recommendations for simpler recipes with minimal effort or equipment.
- Addie Gundry’s No-bake Desserts relies on convenient ingredients like cake mix to ‘whip up’ delicious desserts.
- Recipes in Julianne Bayer’s No-bake Treats are more hands-on but don’t require an oven.
- Yvonne Ruperti’s One Bowl Baking is ideal for beginner bakers.
In observance of the holiday, all Charlotte Mecklenburg Library locations will close at 5 p.m. Nov. 21 and will reopen Nov. 24. We have a full calendar of events that weekend with programs such as teen community service projects to family storytimes.