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The $150 Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving!

The girls, in Val's "pilgrim hats"

France or no France, my American friends and I couldn’t go without Thanksgiving this year, so we decided to do it up the best we could. Since Thursday wasn’t a holiday in France, and our husbands had class, we decided to push our celebration back to Saturday.

We invited 17 people over to my place – not just Americans, but also Canadians (same thing, eh?), Israelis and Russians. And the best part? We made everyone pick a traditional American Thanksgiving dish to make. For a few of the dishes, (like the green bean casserole) we handed out recipes and supplies (French’s Onion Rings) that we brought back from America. 

I think people were hesitant about making unfamiliar food, but everything turned out great. Our Russian friends brought the corn pudding, which actually tasted better than the usual stuff, and our Israeli friends made things like candied yams and green bean casserole, which tasted just like the ones my family makes.

The Thanksgiving spread

Getting the turkey was the tricky part. One of our fluent French-speaking American friends went to the weekly market in town and talked to the butcher. It turned out he would be able to get a turkey with some advance notice. The French eat turkey, but in slices – it’s not common to request an entire turkey. He said he had to tell the butcher exactly how he wanted it (no feet, no feathers, no head, gizzards taken out) and apparently the French people in back of him in line were laughing at how silly it would be to get a turkey with its head already chopped off… whatever. It still had a few feathers on it he had to pluck off Saturday morning, he said.

Anyhow, it turned out delicious. I don’t eat meat, but I did have a tiny little bite of the bird and it was cooked to perfection.

Good thing it tasted good, as it cost more than 100 euros! Can you believe it? As my friend said, that whole “supply and demand” thing is really a b****h.

For my part, I made my grandma’s recipes for pumpkin pie and chestnut stuffing (which, to everyone’s confusion, we didn’t actually stuff in the turkey). I also tried a new recipe for vegetarian mushroom gravy, which was good.

Overall, it was a huge success, I have to say. The dinner made sure we Americans didn’ t feel homesick , and our non-American friends said they were happy we shared this holiday with them – no one had celebrated a Thanksgiving before, even though everyone had heard about it in books and in movies. Even better, we got to prove to people that “traditional” American foods are every bit as tasty as those of other countries.

I think it’s a shame that Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday that gets “imported” to other countries much. I mean, it seems like everyone in the world celebrates Valentine’s Day, or Halloween, lately, but Thanksgiving is such a nice family holiday with yummy food and a good purpose — giving thanks for blessings — why can’t we promote that abroad, instead of Cupid and Jack-o-lanterns?

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