Thanksgiving with friends in France is getting to be a ritual now that I’ve been here for three celebrations. Remembering the first time we got together to enjoy the holiday — that’s not really French — puts tears in my eyes.
Friends in France
This year’s dinner for twelve at my place welcomed some of the same friends as the first and many new to me and our town — Brits, Americans, Swedes, and French. My world is growing bigger and better every day.
Happy Day of Thanks to you all!
Remembering Thanksgiving 2013!
Not Your Holiday? Celebrate Anyway!
This season I’m learning a lesson from my new friends in France. If it’s not your holiday, celebrate anyway!
Wouldn’t the world be an excellent place if we just celebrated it together instead of fussing about what to call a holiday? Spending Thanksgiving in Uzes this year showed me just how that might feel. As we stood around the kitchen in a circle, holding hands — just as my family has done for years — we all had something in common. We were all thankful. No translations are needed.
Prepping for the day
It’s not easy finding the ingredients for an American holiday meal in this part of France. Yes, we did have a turkey. It took a little doing, but we had one. And it was fresh… like in life.
Turkey – One evening, just before dark, Geoffrey called and said, “Time to get the turkey.” He picked me up in the blue van (which I’ve named the “Blue Devil”), and we took off to pick out a live turkey.
I wasn’t looking forward to the event. You see, Geoffrey told me that when we went to pick out a turkey, he would have to kill the turkey on the spot. It was a French law. The people at the fowl farm would then run the turkey through some kind of machine to take the feathers off. None of that sounded like anything I’d enjoy watching; however, I decided to go for the experience. Besides, Geoffrey says” “if you can’t kill it, you shouldn’t eat it.”
I’m still thinking about that.
When we arrived at the poultry farm, it was much like a warehouse. All types of fowl ran around in very well-maintained cages and had plenty of space, food, and drink. I looked for the turkeys. None were to be seen. There were many chickens, geese, and rabbits, but no turkeys.
I took a big sigh of relief, thinking we would stop by Carrefour for a nicely packaged chicken.
When we were preparing to return to the Blue Devil, a man came behind us with a turkey. Ugh. He held her up for us to take a look, slammed her down on a scale big enough to weigh trucks, then threw her into a box. Geoffrey went off to “negotiate” the deal, put the box with the turkey in the back of the van, and told me to “jump in.”
On the way back to Uzes, Geoffrey explained why things didn’t go as I had been told earlier. It seems some “poultry edict” in France now forbids live fowl from being killed at this type of facility. It has something to do with health requirements, I’m sure. So it was up to Geoffrey to kill the bird and de-feather it himself. I’ll just say he wasn’t looking forward to it.
Shopping for oysters was left up to me. Or, better, it was left up to me to pick them up exactly where I was told to go — to Nimes and Geoffrey’s favorite oyster man at the downtown market. Geoffrey was going to spend the day “preparing” the turkey.
The market in Nimes is a colorful place. It’s on the ground floor of a multi-level shopping mall in a very fashionable part of town. The vendors are at the market until just after noon, six days a week. They sell primarily fresh food items, wine, olive oil, etc. You can buy oysters from Sete (the Mediterranean) and some from the Atlantic Ocean. The selection of seafood, meats, cheeses, and prepared specialties — like tapenades and pastries — is enormous.
Sally and I started out early for the 40-minute drive. I brought a cart with wheels to carry the oysters to the car. There was no time to do any other shopping, so Sally and I returned soon to Uzes with two crates of oysters — eight dozen of the most beautiful, fat, and juicy oysters you can imagine. And yes, I did sample a few from the nice oyster man.
Cranberry sauce and pecans
Pecans and cranberry sauce were the most complex items on the Thanksgiving menu. After searching Carrefour for longer than you can imagine, I discovered them both. Guess where? You know, the aisle in the grocery store where they keep all the “international” food. Should have looked there first, I guess.
Since they were “special,” they were pricey. One package of pecans and one small jar of cranberry sauce cost more than US$12! (Perhaps you can tell how small the packages are from the set of keys nearby.)
After all the planning, shopping, and cooking –done almost entirely by Geoffrey– it was time for Thanksgiving. Let me say no more. The pictures and video speak for themselves.
Jammin’ with Angus
The party goes on …. stay tuned