Thursday, 27 November 2008

A look back at Thanksgivings past

The first time I celebrated Thanksgiving in France, it was a sad sad day. I remember crying. See, back in 1997 not only did I not know how to make cornbread out anything but a mix, but cranberries hadn't yet hit the hexagone. Imagine a world pre-cranberries. We did get turkey breast though as far as I remember. And there are always potatoes.

1998, I participted in the American community Thanksgiving in Aix-en-Provence so that was that. Someone else did the cooking and I brought an apple crumble, the only dish I had perfected at that point.

1999 was spent with an american girl whos name I can't remember and our wannabe American boss from the news bureau we were both interning at. Turned out a friend from high school was passing through Paris so we tried our best. Our boss got a Christmas turkey stuffed with chestnuts. I can't remember the rest so that's that.

2000...was my in between period so I was back in NJ with my mom's kickass cooking.

2001 was the first Tday in Lille. My mother-in-law bought us a capon, the largest bird she could find. I hoarded baguette heals for weeks to make stuffing. I used the New England cookbook I'd given my MIL as a gift so I had it made...except the cornbread. I used forzen airelles (smaller than cranberries) to make sauce and discovered yams and double-crust pear-cranberry pie.

2002 is the year I did a buffet dinner for 20 French people. It was also the first time I made rodanchos. It was sad to be the only American there and to spend Thanksgiving explaining the whys and whats of it all...and sticking up for the holiday despite everything the Europeans did to the Native americans.

2003 is a haze. I may have been in NJ or I may just have been dtunk the whole time. Who knows. It's the year I got married.

2004 I think is the year I brought Jerome to the US for his first Thanksgiving since his mother had just lost her battle with cancer. I think he still hasn't forgotten how much Americans can pack away. Or the high school football game and marching band...

2005 was the year cranberries hit France and my parents came to visit me since I was pregnant. We went to the farm to get turkeys, my mom brought over cornbread mix and stuffing bread! We had an amazing meal with my entire family in law. It was great to be able to spend the time in the tiny galley kitchen in my apartment with my mom. And thank God my brother-in-law was there to help chop the birds.

2006 I did attempt the American Club Thanksgiving but it just wasn't right. I missed my mom's rodanchos and didn't like the sausage stuffed turkeys.

2007 was once again spent in NJ with Suzanne who got to eat an entire kosher-organic turkey leg and a half dozen of my mom's rodanchos.

2008 was a lot of work but well worth it. I finally feel like I've come into my own, not only as a cook but as an expat And I've mastered most of the Joy of cooking, especially the cornbread stuffing and the cranberry-orange relish. I will admit though that I had to call NJ to get my mom's advice on roasting turkeys. I had a nice mix of French, American and English around the house. The kids played, the anglo-saxons gorged themselves and the French drooled while the tried to restrain themselves. Since today is actually Thanksgiivng, Suzanne and I also had a Thanksgiving lunch which looked like this and included leftover turkey pot pie, cranberry sauce purchased at the supermarket, and some corn on the cob from the market.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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