Monday, November 30, 2015

The Woes of a French Thanksgiving

This year Thanksgiving was particularly special for me for a number of reasons: it was the first holiday that Florian and I would spend together as a married couple, 2015 was one of the best years of my life and I felt like I had to so much to be thankful for, it was going to be the first time I hosted a Thanksgiving event, and if those reasons weren't enough... it was my first real Thanksgiving celebrated in France.   Now any American who has lived and/or traveled abroad during Thanksgiving weekend knows how difficult it is to wake up on Thursday morning and carry on like it's any other day when all they can think about is their family and friends back home eating turkey, watching football, and preparing for the Black Friday rush.  When I studied abroad in 2009 and taught abroad in 2011 I didn't make any special effort to celebrate Thanksgiving and I regret that deeply, so this year I decided that I was going to organize the perfect Thanksgiving dinner to share with my husband and my new French family.  Little did I know how much work it would be!

Our Turkey

Organizing Thanksgiving in France proved to be very difficult because it fails on a Thursday every year which in France is a normal work day and because finding a turkey in France before the Christmas season is next to impossible.  After deciding to move our Thanksgiving celebration to the weekend the next challenge was to find a turkey.  Florian and I did some brainstorming and decided to try our neighborhood butcher.  I'm sure you can only imagine his surprise when we walked in asked for an entire turkey for our American Thanksgiving celebration.  At first he told us it wouldn't be possible, but after some prodding and some negotiation he agreed to special order a turkey to have available to us the Wednesday before our celebration.

Unique French Ingredients

Excitedly I started planning the meal.  I wanted all the favorites from back home: stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.  I asked my mom to send a care package with all the goods and thought I could sit back and relax until she called me a couple days later and told me it was going to cost over $50 to send $15 worth of groceries.  It just wasn't worth it.  "Notre Thanksgiving est foutu! Our Thanksgiving is ruined!" I complained to Florian later that night.  That's when suddenly he sprang into action.  Grabbing his computer he did a few Google searches and came across this amazing site: - a gold mine of American goods that can be bought and shipped in France.  I quickly placed an order for the ingredients that I could and started researching where to find the ingredients in France that I couldn't order off the site.  For the next week I wandered around Bordeaux visiting various grocery stores, markets, and even epiceries specializing in Asian goods.  It was a lot of work, but in a few days time I finally had everything I needed.

The Meal

Wednesday rolled around and I headed to the butcher to pick up our turkey only to be told that the butcher had made a mistake and ordered a 25lb turkey instead of an 11lb turkey!  When asked if they would be able to get another turkey ordered in time for the weekend the butcher told me coldly "C'est pas possible! It's not possible!"  Defeated and disappointed once again I turned to my husband who made a few calls, exchanged a few stern words, and worked it all out.  The day of our Thanksgiving celebration came and Florian and I raced around our tiny French kitchen trying to prepare everything before the arrival of his family.  All in all it turned out to be a great day and my French husband and my French family seemed to really appreciate their first ever Thanksgiving celebration.  Although it was a lot of work and stress I wouldn't trade the tale of our first ever Thanksgiving for anything.

Here's to hoping that your Thanksgiving was less work, but just as memorable as ours.  Happy Holidays from our family to yours!


  1. What a Thanksgiving to remember! I'm sure you'll look back on this one fondly for years to come. It'll probably be one of those stories you tell the grandkids. ;)

    1. Seriously! There were so many times during the process that I thought we were going to end up just eating McDo for Thanksgiving. Haha! At least it makes for a good story :)