This is the first year in 6 years that I have had Thanksgiving off and can spend it with my husband and in-laws without feeling rushed or having to celebrate a few days later on Sunday. This year I get to take my time in the kitchen with my mother in law, we get to cook together and chat, and share recipes, and I will write them all down in a little notebook and cherish them so I can pass them on one day (because her stuffing recipe is quite literally the best thing you could ever ever eat…). This will be a Thanksgiving to remember!
Thanksgiving in Paris can be a nostalgically challenging day, because well the rest of the country is working and has no clue that you are dreaming of Fall leaves in New England, and wishing you could be back at home to see all those people from high school who have drifted into the now trans-Atlantic distant past, and remembering what it is like to turn on the football game and bake turkey with about five women in the kitchen, a crackling fire in the fireplace, and plenty of commotion and agitation which is comforting because it is home; home from that different life before the study abroad episode became an expat experience, and now it has been a decade that i have been living here. Not that it is regretted, the choice to stay, NOT AT ALL, Paris is my new home now…but this time of year I start longing for my old home on Cape Cod.
So, in order to appease that desire, I put candles in my fireplace and pretend like it’s crackling, I make pumpkin bread, and Christmas cookies, I head to Starbucks for a soy cappuccino (plus they have Christmas music playing and little holiday trees decorating the counters already, and I am TOTALLY okay with that), and I head to the movies for a good old American flick, and then there is always the Thanksgiving store, where over-priced American grocery products become the incredible “must-have” of the season (And you thought you would never pay 7€ for a box of lucky charms!!!). For pete’s sake, it’s the only place in Paris to get REAL and FRESH Ocean Spray cranberries! This is imperative from a girl who grew up on Cape Cod. I NEED them for Thanksgiving dinner!
So my menu on Thanksgiving includes some great American classics :
Turkey (stuffed with my mother-in-law’s incredible stuffing
Cranberry sauce (homemade thank you)
Candied sweet potatoes (I leave off the marshmallows and just do a caramelized pecan topping so as not to frighten the French)
Gravy -gluten free for Chéri)
And most important of all, the pumpkin pie (gluten and dairy free for Chéri & moi : I just replace the milk ingredient with coconut milk, and I use a gluten free crust from the Glutabye brand). I’ll make two, one for me, and one for everybody else.
And voilà…the start of several holiday season meals that will most likely tighten my pants for several moths to come.
All you people back home may take it as a given…but I have several days post turnkey meal to snooze and digest! Woohoooo! And for that, I am absolutely grateful.