I meant to write this right after Thanksgiving, but a stomach bug has put my daughter and I both out for a few days.
As I hope most people know, Thanksgiving is only a holiday celebrated in North America… and by that, I mean in the United States and in Canada (though they celebrate it in October I believe). For me personally, Thanksgiving has always been the most important of all the holidays because the focus is not on gifts (unless you do black Friday and late Thursday night shopping those days…which I myself despise). Thanksgiving is meant to celebrate family and really be thankful for what we have. My grandmother made this day a family tradition and it stuck with me.
SO this year I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving and I was very grateful to have friends who wanted to celebrate with me. My friend and classmate Clara who is Canadian, and my friends Lauren and Fearghal, a couple who are French and Irish. Thursday was a no go for the actual day of celebration as it was a school day, so we left things to that weekend. Lauren and Fearghal invited us to their home for the weekend and Saturday we cooked and celebrated.
Let me say, that was one of the best weekends I have had in a long time.
First of the SHOPPING for “basic” thanksgiving ingredients… was one of the most stressful and frankly amusing shopping trips I have had a long time. I like to bake so I was wanting to make a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie. Well, let me tell you what.
Brown sugar…not a think, corn syrup, NOT A THING… molasses or thick maple syrup to make brown sugar… also Not a Thing in France. Which drastically change the recipe.
Canned pumpkin puree… Forget about it. Canned fruit is like really not a thing in France. Jams and Jellies, yes… whole, or halved can fruits, nope. So instead I bought a piece of pumpkin and made my own puree.
Cranberry sauce…in a can, yeah not happening. Thankfully that is more for convenience and cranberry sauce can be easily made. Finding Cranberries… that was fairly easy to my utter astonishment. By this point, Fearghal who is shopping with me is so stressed out that finding cranberries is a win. I am laughing because this is hilarious. It had never occurred to me that ingredients are just… different here.
And lastly… the coveted turkey… I don’t know how your family cooks their turkey but my dad deep fries ours and it is AMAZING.
Well, a whole turkey is not something they sell this time of the year… next to the big snouts, cow tongues, and fully skinned rabbit or duck…and NO I am not joking about ANY of the aforementioned items you can easily find in the meat section of the grocery store. We tried three different stores with no luck and settled on a small chicken and a turkey leg.
In the long run, Thanksgiving is not about the food either, it is about being with friends and family, making the most of what you have, and being thankful for where you are. Never in a Million years did I think I would have the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving in a foreign country. So even though the pecan pie tasted eggy and there was no whole turkey…. we had some awesome chicken, potatoes, green beans, homemade cranberry sauce, Brussel sprouts, stuffing, and one heck of homemade pumpkin pie… and this will be a Thanksgiving I am not likely to forget anytime soon.