What I’m Thankful For

Happy [day after] Thanksgiving!

As cheesy as it sounds, the best part of Thanksgiving really is being with loved ones. For many people, including myself, Thanksgiving is the only occasion I have to see most of my extended family during the year. Though it can occasionally be a little awkward to make conversation with the third cousins whose names I absolutely never remember, it’s still great. Plus, I love having an excuse to doze on the couch and watch a Law And Order: SVU marathon with my brother, pretending to help my parents in the kitchen, and taking the time to listen to my grandparents’ amazing stories.

So of course, I knew it would be difficult to be away from my family for the holiday. Luckily, I’ve formed a pretty wonderful family of friends in Normandy, and we managed to have a perfectly fantastic Thanksgiving all by ourselves. Two Americans, three Brits, and one Spaniard came to my apartment for an all-afternoon feast, and it was far more successful than I could ever have imagined.

Taking a page from my dad’s book, who has always taken great care to slice my toast diagonally before transferring it to the final plate, I went for decoration as the key to the meal’s presentation. I spent the whole morning spiffing up my apartment with my meager supplies and making the eensy kitchen suitable for a dinner party.

Each person had their own hand-drawn place setting.

Each person was greeted with their own hand-drawn place setting.

As previous posts have detailed, I’m no cook and have certainly never prepared a Thanksgiving meal, but the other two Americans and I took on the chief roles of organizing the menu for our almost-not-quite-traditional dinner. Confronted with the task of creating classic American flavors with French ingredients for a mostly vegetarian group, I’d say we did pretty well. We stuffed our faces with a meal for the record books: the aptly named stuffing, sweet potatoes with goat cheese gratin, melt in your mouth brussels sprouts, green bean casserole with mushroom sauce, fluffy mashed potatoes, caramelized sweet onion pastries…the list goes on.

The closest thing to fitting it all in one picture

The closest thing to fitting it all in one picture

It was nearly impossible to save room for dessert, but we managed to suffer through it. We spent several hours laughing around the table, telling past Thanksgiving stories and sharing jokes between sips of mulled wine. As everyone waddled to the door with their belts loosened and pants buttons popping, we decided that a reunion Thanksgiving dinner would have to happen in the future, no matter where we all may be living at the time.

Pumpkin, chocolate, and apple pies being cut simultaneously by professionals

Pumpkin, chocolate, and apple pies being cut simultaneously by true professionals

As I fell into bed shortly after midnight, having named my food baby (Patata) and planned her entire future (pastry chef and freelance caterer to the stars, married at 28 to a veterinarian with 3 cats), I couldn’t help but smile. The days of preparation were completely worth seeing the non-Americans taste their first bite of pumpkin pie. This year, even though I can’t be with my blood family, I’m thankful to have found a group of people with whom I can share some of the best things in life: food and friendship.

The best part: the Black Friday leftover sandwich

The finale: the Black Friday leftover sandwich, featuring French baguette


4 comments on “What I’m Thankful For

  1. Sean Breslin says:

    Those pies look awesome…


  2. Rhonda Catanzaro says:

    Oh my goodness!! Yummo to the quadrillionth power! What a wonderful new tradition you have begun with your fellow expats. Great to know no turkey was harmed! LOL LOVE

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