Nathalie’s Thanksgiving


If you’ve read here or here, you’ve seen my stories of how I managed to make Thanksgiving in France. But today was an entirely different experience. I’m at the Institut de Français, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, doing a month-long French immersion program. Where, as far as food goes, Chef Nathalie is my guardian angel. She totally gets the no-carb thing, and prepares a separate plate for me every single day. But today, Thanksgiving, that’s not the most amazing thing she did.


Today she prepared a French-inflected Thanksgiving lunch for 50 people, a few of whom were American, many of whom were not.


Here she is with Emilia, who sets and clears our tables, together with Onur, a Turkish classmate of mine, under the American flags hung especially for today,


and here with her assistant Mila, turkey already in the oven, pies ready to be baked, just as you are at 9:00 on Thanksgiving morning.

Heroically she prepared such classics as squash soup,


vegetable tarts,



tiny tartlets of airelles,


which taste a lot like cranberries but are more closely related to lingonberries,



adorable little corn pancakes, as well as the beautiful platter of turkey, stuffing, vegetables, and gorgeous edible leaves that you see up top. I tried to convince her to give me a turkey leg to gnaw on, but I think she thought I was joking, and instead she made me this much more dignified plate,


including that most American of vegetables, bean sprouts. I have to say that it was all delicious, absolutely and completely.


Then the carb-eaters among us had these beautiful apple tarts, with ice cream, while I had some really nice cheese.


The table was decorated patriotically for Thanksgiving, and honestly, I can’t imagine how it could have been any better. It was the most French of all my Thanksgivings in France, and really, one of the best. Thanksgiving was always Shel’s favorite holiday, and I didn’t know how I would get through it without him this year. But Nathalie made it easy for me. Merci, Nathalie.

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6 Comments on “Nathalie’s Thanksgiving”

  1. Catanea Says:

    I am ravie that you have had a good Thanksgiving. And thank you so much for the airelles! People (French people) have been telling me over and over again that “airelle” is French for “cranberry”; but I buy airelles whenever i see them in French markets, and find them nothing like cranberries, which are so solid and robust, where “airelles” are…er…airy?
    Et bonne continuation du cours!

  2. Barbara Jacquin Says:

    Can you get her recipe for the corn pancakes? Yummie menu!

  3. roostamama Says:

    how wonderful….everything looks great….lol bean sprouts! happy turkey day…..I’m glad it was a happy day for you

  4. Randi Says:

    How sweet of her. Glad you could have a good memory of your first thanksgiving without Shel.

  5. This is absolutely amazing! What a wonderful thought and action. The food looks fantastic.

  6. jeanne Says:

    How wonderful of Nathalie to take such good care of her guests, and especially for helping to make this Thanksgiving a nurturing memory for you to think back on in years to come.

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