I’m not usually one for gushing, “let’s go around the table” declarations of what we’re grateful for at Thanksgiving dinner. To be honest, if someone asked I usually wouldn’t know what to say (I would probably make some snarky comment). If you suggested it with my family, we would all probably awkwardly ignore it and try to move on. We’re not touchy-feely types.
But this year, there is so much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my safety, after a stressful and tragic few weeks. I’m thankful for my family – awkward as we are – for being totally on board with Project: Elizabeth Moves to France. I’m thankful for my job, giving me the ability and opportunity to keep it and still be here.
And I’m thankful that I get to live in this amazing city:
Francegiving: An American Thanksgiving in Paris
I may be in France, but there was no way I was going to miss out on one of the best holidays of the year. A holiday entirely devoted to food? Impossible.
I fully intended to celebrate my Thanksgiving, and celebrate it properly.
I only had 2 problems. A mini-oven that doesn’t work well, and no access to critical ingredients since I’m, you know, in France.
My oven is mediocre, at best, and in no way suited for supporting a holiday feast. While it technically is an oven, it is not only microwave-sized, but also doubles as an actual microwave. And grill. And some other setting I don’t quite understand. Anyway, this jack-of-all-trades appliance is, as they say, a master of none. Even if I could find a turkey small enough to fit, I wouldn’t trust the thing to be cooked.
And so, I turned to my favorite solution when things get tricky: get someone else to do it! Though my original plan was to find a tray of turkey breasts and make do that way, I realized that our friendly neighborhood boucher was right next door and fully capable of handling a turkey order. And order one we did! First obstacle: successfully maneuvered.
The next obstacle is the other pillar of Thanksgiving feasts, pie. In a test-run last weekend, I couldn’t even cook the simplest of simple pies in this oven. (Report: Swedish Apple Pie was burnt on top and totally undercooked just below) If I couldn’t make that recipe work, there was no way a regular pie was a risk worth taking. That’s a disappointment I couldn’t stomach. So again I turned to having others solve my problems: I ordered a pumpkin pie from the American market, Thanksgiving.
And so we came to Thanksgiving day perfectly positioned to not totally fail at recreating an American spread. Frenchman took the day off to be with me, so together we set out to the Marais to pick up our pie. The weather was spectacular for a quick walk across Ile de la Cité.
An unfortunate upside of the Paris attacks is the almost complete absence of tourists. While it’s sad to see, it’s also really refreshing to have Paris so empty and be able to really see the monuments and streets for once.
After picking up our pie at the completely overwhelmed Thanksgiving – line curled completely around the store full of American accents discussing their ingredient needs – we made our way back conveniently passing through Ile St. Louis, which happens to be the home of famous ice cream maker Berthillon. We literally can’t come near this neighborhood without Frenchman asking if we can stop. I gave in and we picked up a lovely container of vanilla to go with our pumpkin pie!
When I’m not passing off my problems on other people, my number 1 resource for all things food is my mother. And with plenty of mom-structions filed away for everything from stuffing to butternut squash, I spent the entire afternoon prepping the remaining pieces of our Thanksgiving feast.
I hope that everyone had a fantastic, filling Thanksgiving at home and abroad! We certainly did, and have leftovers to spare.