Thanksgiving in France

This year I did my first Thanksgiving in France! I’d always considered doing it but didn’t have an oven, or didn’t feel enough people would be motivated to come. French people don’t get Thanksgiving, so doing Thanksgiving with only French people was never really too motivating. I was always afraid they’d plan to come and then cop out at the last minute, like it was just any other dinner party. Last year I didn’t do Thanksgiving because it was the weekend after the CAPES written exams and I was totally tweaked. In retrospect, I think I would’ve had more time to plan it than this year!

I told my English-speaking friends during the October vacation that I’d like to do Thanksgiving if they were interested. They said yes, so I started asking J’s parents about how to get a turkey, since his dad is a butcher and has food connections. Turns out his volaillier colleague doesn’t sell his turkeys till Christmas (not surprising), so J’s mom went to the markets under Les Halles in Poitiers and ordered me one there. But without asking first about the price! I knew turkeys could be expensive and hard to find but J’s parents seemed to think it would be easy so I didn’t ask any questions, and apparently she didn’t either! The turkey was so expensive she only asked me for half the price. Next year I’ll know better—maybe I’ll just go for a chicken of some sort.

Otherwise, I really didn’t have much time at all to plan for Thanksgiving. Two weeks ago I had my training day on Wednesday which always cuts out about 6 hours of work time and sets me back on work for at least a week, two weeks this time with all of the homework and tests I’ve been having to grade. So I’d been working on weekends and simply decided to let Thanksgiving just sort of happen.

And it turned out fine. We didn’t have stuffing and we didn’t have cranberry sauce or any sort of substitute. I had to borrow a meat thermometer from J’s parents and buy a roasting rack the morning of our dinner. On a side note, it’s truly odd driving around in France on the day you’re celebrating Thanksgiving—I kept expecting the roads and stores to be empty or closed, and there to be snow on the ground (a result of my Minnesota/Wisconsin Thanksgivings). Our little oven didn’t allow anything but a turkey to be cooked in it so fortunately my friends brought over their other baked things from their own homes.

In the end, we had: a small turkey (around 8.5 pounds), mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, peas and corn, French onion/bread baked casserole, gravy, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Maybe next year I’ll be in more sane shape with work and will be able to do things like plan ahead for bread crumbs, buy turkey carving tools, make my own whipped cream, and bake pumpkin bread. Then again, maybe not.

Unfortunately, we were so busy cooking, eating, playing Time’s Up, and eating again (dessert), that we forgot to take any pictures. Another thing to remember for next year?

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