2 December 2019

Turkey time


Thanksgiving is not a holiday in France, and as it falls on a week day many wait until the weekend to celebrate, as we did.

Above: special all-American apéritif of patés, sliced cheeses and meats; from-scratch pecan and pumpkin pies

Below: the roasted turkey gets carved in kitchen chez des amis


Where to find American-style ingredients in Paris:

La Grande Épicerie Bon Marché
Marks & Spencers
The Real McCoy
Monoprix
Carrefour

***

I grew up in the U.S. in an international family. French, German, of course English (and sometimes Italian when relatives arrived from Rome) were spoken at home, and on Thanksgiving, besides traditional side dishes, some quite untraditional ones put in an appearance over the years. There might be calves' brains au beurre blanc, potato dumplings, apfel strudel and, depending on who requested what, gnocchi, sauerkraut, kugel, pierogi or Caribbean red beans and rice, shiny with pork fat.

I was quite small when I accompanied my father one night to a place where hundreds of live turkeys were flapping about, and he picked one out. It was exciting. Soon after, that turkey appeared on our table, roasted to juicy perfection. My mother was an excellent cook (as was my father) and made sure that all the usual suspects - stuffing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, vegetable dishes - were made from scratch and (as much as possible) fresh ingredients.

The list below are things you'd never find on our Thanksgiving table. I realize that for many, they are the stuff memories are made of:

- Sweet potatoes (from a can) turned into casseroles covered in melted marshmallows
- Cranberry sauce (also from a can). Mix w/crushed walnuts and frozen orange juice it's elevated to "home made"
- Ambrosia - what's that?
- Canned green beans w/canned cream of mushroom soup casseroles topped w/fried onions - again, from a can
- Creamed onions (where's the cream?)
- Red (cherry?) jello mold fruit "salad" w/suspended canned fruits
- Green (lime?) jello mold made w/cottage cheese and crushed pineapple from a can
- Tasteless canned olives
- 5-Cup “lasts forever in the fridge" Salad
- Mashed potatoes made from dried flakes in a box
- Stuffing from bags
- Mixed frozen vegetables
- Cakes from boxed mixes ("just add an egg")
- Store-bought pecan or pumpkin pie, pumped w/sugar and, for shelf life, “stabilizers”
- Canned pumpkin
- Whipped cream  from plastic tubs (where's the cream?)
- Cheese balls - I confess I do love a good cheese ball but again, it wasn't something I grew up with at home

***

To my readers: I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving, whatever you ate. BPJ