I am obsessed with Thanksgiving…
…at least, accordingly to my boyfriend. Last night I had a dream that I was shopping for used casserole dishes on Craig’s list. A very persuasive Irish woman nearly talked me into buying her entire set of pans, when all I needed was 1. I turned her down and walked away, wiping the sweat off my brow. When I woke up, I was still sweating. My boyfriend might be right.
My 2nd annual semi-traditional Thanksgiving dinner in Paris is proving to be particularly challenging this year. Last year, we had an enormous gas oven, a giant foil turkey pan, and a huge dining room. Not this year. The number 1 dilemma is how the hell to cook a turkey for 13 guests using my miniature combination microwave-convection oven? This oven does a superb job for pizzas, grilled veggies, and reheating coffee – albeit not without notable increases in temperature and time – but a 7 kilo turkey?! Impossible. Moreover, what pan to use and where to seat these 13 people in my tiny living room?
On a posh street in the Marais section of Paris there is a shop called Thanksgiving. This is the place to find traditional US holidays items. At first, it boggled my mind that such an establishment could stay in business from from January to October, but after having seen their outlandish prices on things like cranberry sauce and Stovetop stuffing, it all made sense (to be fair, they also have a Cajun restaurant). Thanksgiving offers stuffed roasted turkeys & all the fixings if you don’t want to bother yourself. If you are doing the cooking, they even supply something called a turkey bag, an utterly frivolous post-millennial invention that I somehow got sweet-talked into buying last year. Hadn’t people been successfully roasting turkeys for decades without enveloping them in plastic? Finally, I decided not to use the turkey bag. My first Thanksgiving turkey came out moist and delicious. I was planning to avoid Thanksgiving (the store) this year, but where else could I find the key ingredient for my famous Cranberry Blue Cheese Walnut tart? Jorge want to pick up the sack of fresh cranberries, but we forget about the foil turkey pan! Disappointingly, I’ve not been able to find one at any of the Asian or North African epiceries in my neighborhood either. So a trip to Thanksgiving may not be avoidable this year.
As for the bird, on Saturday I stopped by the Boucherie Nouvelle to put in the order. After expressing my concern that my little over would likely not be able to hold a bird large enough to feed my party of 13, the butcher offered to cook the turkey for me! “Oh really, how much extra will that cost me?” I asked. “Why, nothing – it’s the same price,” came the reply. Oh, joy! That was the best news I’d heard in weeks. I simply need to return with a cooking tray, put down a deposit, and leave the rest to my lovely neighborhood butchers. Since they are open Sunday morning, I can even pick up the steaming hot bird just before the guests arrive. No one will ever know my little secret! Who says there is no customer service in this country???? They haven’t met my butcher.
Today we scored a handy folding table at my favorite second hand shop, as well as some additional plates and wine glasses for Sunday’s lunch. We are still a few chairs shy, and of course, there is still the Corn bread oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pecan pie to prepare, but it’s all coming together. With a little bit more luck, Thanksgiving will be a breeze this year…. that is, if I can manage to get the turkey home before the neighborhood dogs find out!