Happy Thanksgiving, to those who celebrated last week! Thursday and Friday were work days here, so I hosted a belated potluck dinner on Saturday, after spending a small fortune at the Thanksgiving store (actual name), where they have a corner on the market for cranberries and pumpkin pie filling, and at my local rotisserie, where I ordered a 7kg bird that they cooked on a spit.
I went to pick up the turkey at 4pm and saw three others turning on their own little spits – apparently my brilliant idea was not actually that unique. I guess there are lots of Americans in Paris too lazy or too ill-equipped to cook turkeys in their tiny French ovens, so they outsource the work to Frenchies. For a 10 Euro surcharge, I’d say it is well worth it.
The fresh cranberries I bought were from some Nordic country or other and behaved much differently than American cranberries when cooked in simmering sugar water. They didn’t burst as easily and instead started frothing. The resulting cranberry sauce tasted much the same as it has the last 5 or 6 years I’ve made it. Still, I was thankful to have also found Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, so that my home state of New Jersey could be well represented at the feast. Sadly, I somehow misplaced the can opener and so we couldn’t actually eat the canned sauce; we instead used it as a centerpiece.
I created a very type A Google spreadsheet wherein people could sign up for specific categories of dishes (potatoes, stuffing, pie, etc.), thus ensuring that every Thanksgiving essential would be accounted for. My Italian friend offered to bring bruschetta or lasagna; I laughed in his face and assigned him sweet potatoes. I may have been a bit strict about it, but it was for the best – look at that majestic spread!
Not that I wanted my guests to get sick, but I did take a certain pleasure when the French and Guadeloupeans started moaning about how stuffed they were. As you should be, my friends, as you should be!
After an impromptu singalong to “Purple Rain,” which my friend expertly belted out on the piano (apparently this is something of a tradition in her family), we played cheesy games like salad bowl and some variation of Uno that I can’t remember the name of. The salad bowl game introduced the non-native English speakers to the new-to-them terms, “food baby” and “food coma,” which should give you some indication of how we were all feeling after the meal.
But that was before dessert!
There was pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pecan pie, and apple cake. And two lovely people made me little side dishes of gluten-free pumpkin pie so that I could pig out alongside everyone else. A very sweet ending to a lovely evening.
All in all, Franco-American Thanksgiving was much, much easier to pull off than Thanksgiving in Dakar, and much more traditional. But that is not to say it was better – that would be like picking a favorite child. I will forever treasure the memory of each of my Thanksgivings à l‘étranger, and look forward to the day when I will once more celebrate Thanksgiving in a foreign land.