Turkey and Foie Gras: My French Thanksgiving
This year, I joined millions of Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving overseas. The holiday usually gives me a break from my studies to spend time with my family and help make a meal that takes more than thirty minutes to cook. But this Thanksgiving, I celebrated in Paris where I moved two months ago to study at a French university.
Another American student from the program invited a group of students and friends for a Parisian Thanksgiving at her apartment. We squeezed fifteen people–a group of French people, Americans and expats from other countries–into a twenty square-meter apartment.
Instead of being prepared in one house, our Thanksgiving meal was potluck-style, with everyone bringing a dish to contribute to the meal. The meal included American classics like turkey (cooked in a small toaster oven!), canned cranberries brought back from the U.S. by a forward-thinking guest, sweet potatoes and green beans. We added French touches like foie gras appetizers, gratin instead of mashed potatoes, baguettes, and of course, wine. For dessert we had pumpkin pie, frozen pumpkin pie, and caramel apple pie.
Preparing a Thanksgiving dinner takes planning in the U.S., and even a bit more forethought in another country. I brought a frozen pumpkin pie, a family recipe. The challenge in Paris was to find the pumpkin preserves that are so easy to find in the United States. My mom had to explain to me how to get the ingredients from the actual pumpkin instead of just from a can! Another guest hadn’t been able to find fresh string beans in the supermarket and ran around Paris the day before Thanksgiving to look for them.
The guests were a mix of friends and others I had not met before, so my Thanksgiving also gave me the chance to meet new people. We compared Thanksgiving experiences in the U.S., our preparations for celebrating Thanksgiving in Paris, and made the classic US and French cultural comparisons.
While being away from family on this holiday always makes me miss home, I loved being able to communicate with them via Skype and to still be a part of their day.
I love Thanksgiving with my family in the United States, but Thanksgiving abroad has also given me the chance to appreciate the opportunity I have to travel, as well as the wonderful friends who have become my family in France.