28 November 2020

A French Thanksgiving

 
"Turkey?" they laughed. "What a charming idea!"

***
 
In America, there's nothing more enticing at Thanksgiving than a perfectly roasted juicy turkey, its skin crackling, its meat falling from the bone. The odor alone that's been wafting throughout the house for hours as it bakes is saliva-inducing, and when it's finally placed on the table with a flourish, ready for carving, it's not unusual for grateful diners to break into applause.
 
Until recently, no Thanksgiving would be deemed worth its weight in stuffing without it but vegetarians and vegans, whose ranks have swelled to a formidable force, have made the turkey-less Thanksgiving not so uncommon. 
 
As a concept, Thanksgiving is understood and even embraced by the French, though there might be an unspoken skepticism of a meat considered a trifle too "bon marché" to serve up to guests - unless it's the prized black-plumed dindon de Bresse, available at Christmas.  
 
So should a French friend insist on hosting a Thanksgiving feast, you may find yourself wondering, after the first two courses, where's the turkey? (Où est la dinde?). And that is when you discover that your eager-to-please hosts have taken it upon themselves to eliminate the traditional bird altogether and serve up a sensational substitute that, while well-meant, misses the mark.
 
As the meal winds down you may also notice, to your dismay, that there has been a second casualty: the pumpkin pie, "an acquired taste" you are informed matter-of-factly. But then, a dessert that looks like it jumped off the pages of a French food magazine materializes, and you forget what you're missing. - BPJ
 
Menu (above):

- Apéritifs
- Morilles (a wild mushroom) quiche
- Breast of wild pheasant with cracked pepper and fruit
- Goat cheese toasts as the cheese course
- Apple soufflés
 

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