Friday, November 24, 2006

Giving Thanks in Gay Paree

Apologies to my vegetarian friends...I realize this is a rather gruesome sight. But this was our turkey yesterday, raised wild on a farm in France somewhere and delivered to the poultry guy across the street at Marche St Quentin (no relation to the prison of the same name). I guess if you're going to eat animals you may as well know that they had heads and necks and feathers and didn't come already wrapped in plastic with a sell-by date.

In addition to turkey (which was delicious by the way), we had cranberry sauce, chive-and-parsley mashed potatoes, a rather viscuous gravy which I made without a recipe (and which probably could have used a recipe), salad (for roughage), and a wonderful sausage and cornbread stuffing that a friend brought. Dessert was pumpkin pie, natch, and -- for the Parisian twist -- a big box of Girard chocolates tied with a copper ribbon, which we were too full to do much but stare at (and which are now hiding on my top shelf where I plan to quietly nibble at them for the rest of the holiday season - thanks M!).

Thanksgiving in Paris is a mixed bag -- on one hand, it's kind of nice to have our own secret holiday among expats, and not feel the pressure of a major holiday breathing down our necks and demanding attention. I mean, if we didn't celebrate, no one would notice or care. So it becomes a fun sort of game instead of an obligation. And the fact that staple items like canned pumpkin and cranberries (once you track them down) cost about 400 percent more than they do in the States is just part of the fun.

On the other hand, as one of our guests pointed out, it feels a little weird to be importing this custom of "making a meal that everyone sits down to eat", because, when you stop and think about it, the French do this practically every day (minus the pumpkin pie of course). Also, since it's not a national holiday here, everyone is at work on Thursday and dinnertime is late in the evening, which doesn't allow for the usual post-thanksgiving digestive coma in front of the television (followed by leftovers and popcorn).

But old habits die hard, almost harder in a foreign place. It just felt natural yesterday to be cracking walnuts and munching olives, waiting for the turkey to be done (or the oven to explode), pondering next year's election in the States, swapping stories, and giving thanks -- for the food, each other, and this cranky old city which brought us all together. Posted by Picasa


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