Project Thanksgiving

Last Year’s Epic Thanksgiving in St. Mandé

Last Year’s Epic Thanksgiving in St. Mandé

It’s that time of the year. The Birthday/Thanksgiving/Onset-of-Winter time. My mother’s birthday and my own are two days apart, the 19th and the 21st, and Thanksgiving is usually within the following week. It’s a very warm, bright spot just at the beginning of what in my natural habitat could be a long, grueling, frozen winter that doesn’t give way until April or sometimes even May.

Like last year, I’m in Paris. And  like last year, we’re going to be celebrating my birth at my favourite bar. This time, though, I live next-door to the bar (danger!) and the first half of the party doubles as a Housewarming shindig for Kam and I.

Oh, convenience!

Pam, Julian and Chris will be visiting from their program in Firenze that week as well. Way to amp up a naturally juicy holiday-time, right? We will be holding Thanksgiving Dinner on the actual, real, honest-to-goodness Day Of, and digging in to our meal at possibly the same hour as many of our fellow East-Coast Pilgrim Descendants who dig in shortly after lunch (7pm our time, 1pm EST). On the holiday menu: turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, bean salad, stuffing, and dessert that still needs deciding upon.

Trouble is, how does one recreate such an iconic American meal? A good friend here in Paris holds an event every year around this time called Frenchgiving, and it’s not meant to imitate our classic menu at all. In fact, it redefines Thanksgiving-time for expats and French guests alike. My friend prides himself on the fact that his potluck-style meal “has never seen a cranberry sauce”.

My idea is to recreate the American meal, while adding a twist of classic French cuisine, since all three of my friends will be either visiting Paris for the first time in their lives, or in a long time. It would only be fair to try and provide them with a little cultural reference point in the meal. This led me to consider making a less-hearty gravy, in the French ‘jus’ style, making sure to pop some authentic champagne, and perhaps making some crêpes to finish off the dinner. Baguette, as always, will be a central point of the meal, and I’m accepting any and all suggestions up until the Big Day.

Should we go “fois gras?” or is it too much?

I’ll try to keep updating as things become clearer, like whether or not we’re going to be able to find a cooked turkey for the event on such short notice, and if we do, will it still be warm by the time it gets to the table, and whether it will come in its juices, for jus’ing purposes, and if not, whether we’ll be reduced to a rotisserie chicken (What “reduced”? rotisserie chicken is damn good…it’s just not turkey).

One positive side to this is that the grocery stores won’t be packed with people loading up on last-minute items, or running out of important meal staples, buying out all of the canned cran sauce or other such tragedies. The trickiest bit will be actually finding the items in the first place, and figuring out how to engineer some of our classic American dishes.

Today I am thankful for the Thanksgiving Store. Yeah, it’s literally called that, or something like that. It’s a store in Paris I’ve heard talk of, which has Thanksgiving stuff in it. For sale. To me.