A French Thanksgiving


This will be our first Thanksgiving in America for several years, and in looking back at some of our past French Thanksgivings, I thought that some of the newer readers would enjoy seeing how it’s done in France.  Or at least, how I did it when far from my native land in a place where cranberries don’t grow.

So have a look at our 2008 Thanksgiving as you’re making your own preparations, and next time I’ll show you the stuffing recipe I put together to show our French friends what a purely American Thanksgiving food tastes like.  And let me just say that in general the French have heard of Thanksgiving, but they have no idea what it is, why we do it, what we eat, or why we eat so much all at once!


If I ever get tired of cooking I can always open a spa for turkeys.  But for now, all I actually have in mind is to try poaching my bird before roasting it for our belated but much anticipated Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.  And here’s where we run into problems like “if we really and truly lived here I’d have a (insert missing item here: big enough stockpot, turkey lifter, 9×13″ pan, or whatever) but since we’re only visitors I’m trying to make do with what we’ve got.”  And we also run into the “why did I think I could have a seated dinner for 15 people in a rented house with a rock band playing in the living room?” problem, but that one’s easier to answer.  I’m nuts.

Contrary to appearances, after being subjected to several unnatural contortions, the turkey can be stuffed into the pot, albeit with ankles waving in the air and a back that will be shivering in the cold.  But since nobody really eats the ankles and the back, I’m not too worried about that.  I’m more worried about whether there will be any room in the pot for poaching liquid, and whether there will be enough meat for 15 people.  A 7 kilo turkey should feed 15 in theory, but it’s got legs as long and breasts as small as any Rockette, so I’m making lots of vegetables to flounce around it.

We do have enough tableware (thank you dear landlord), even if it doesn’t match, but what we are lacking is chairs.  In fact, after rearranging all of the furniture in the downstairs yesterday in order to a) create some combination of tables that will seat 15, and b) empty the living room so that the rock band Shel loves to play with can set up all their amps, microphones, and other gear in order to serenade the cook for a couple of hours before dinner, we still had to beg for a couple of folding chairs.  I’d have begged for a fainting couch too, but I don’t know where we’d put it.


Once a motley assortment of tables was in place I rummaged for tablecloths and napkins.  Of course we don’t have enough matching stuff for 15, but I spent time choosing the patterns that clashed the least.  Reasonably satisfied with my selection, I went to the kitchen to oversee the toasting pecans, only to come back to the sight of Beppo and Zazou approving of our new arrangements.  It’s just like them to sprawl on the clean linen while we are under the furniture ferreting out the bits of feathers and other previously hidden evidence of their tireless hunting.  Not to mention the scorpion hibernating under a carton of wine I’d planned to serve. I must say that he had good taste, that scorpion, he chose the Chateau Calisse.

Today will be a giant puzzle.  If I make this dish ahead, I’ll have more oven space tomorrow, but there’s no room in the fridge to keep it overnight.  It’s gotten quite chilly recently, so in theory I could leave things outside to chill, but given the size of the rats that our little tablewarmers have been bringing in this week, I don’t think I’ll leave a tempting pan of corn pudding out to attract them.

Geometry was my worst subject in school, and it’s really being tested today.  And my next worst subject was typing.  Did I mention that the table formerly known as “my desk” has now become part of the meal plan?  Typing on my lap the good old fashioned way is really a chore.  I think I’d rather go peel a big heap of potatoes and start the court bouillon for the poaching pot.  But although things seem a bit desperate at the moment, I swear I’m not crying, I’m chopping onions!

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France, French Letters Visits America

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2 Comments on “A French Thanksgiving”

  1. Thanksgiving in a foreign country is always interesting! We would bribe people who had base privileges to get us Thanksgiving-specific ingredients 🙂 Love your stories!

  2. Janet Says:

    Cats will always find the best place to sleep. I think they’re programmed to search out linens, clean clothes and pillows.
    Your Thanksgiving sounds like my Mother use to have to go through when the extended family landed in on her.
    Good Times, good times.

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