Last night, I finally sat down to write a post about how our Thanksgiving went. And after a couple of paragraphs, I realized I was too tired to continue. So, I closed the lid on the laptop and went to sleep. At 10pm. Which I NEVER do. And I slept until 10:10am this morning. Which I also never do. I think I'm fighting something, although I don't really feel sick per se. Luckily for you, I didn't post what I'd done because it was the most incomprehensible shit I have EVER written. And you would have thought I finally flipped my lid.
The title is the short version, but since I know you've been waiting anxiously for two weeks to find out if I totally burnt the bird or had lumps in my mashed potatoes... here's what REALLY happened.
We got up extra-early (because when you're cooking turkey and you've asked your guests to arrive at 1pm, you have no choice) and got the first of the two Picard turkeys in the oven a little ahead of schedule; so far, so good. We had breakfast with the Little Guy, where I made pancakes at his request, and created France's first-ever (sort of) turkey-shaped pancake:
...and then started to prep the rest of the meal (I did the fresh carrots and Georges peeled the potatoes). Sidebar about the mashed potatoes: Georges and I had a debate about the "right" way to make them. I said you have to peel them before you cook them, and he insisted it was "easier" to do it after. But in the end, he said he'd try it MY way, and I could tell he was dubious. I couldn't locate evaporated milk so substituted a mix of half-cream milk and light cream (not the sweet kind, the French kind) with an obscene amount of unsalted butter, and the potatoes were TO DIE FOR. Even Georges thought so, and the Little Guy raved about them. Score one point for America.
Somewhere in between all of that, cooking the vegetables and other kitchen things, we took showers, got ourselves dressed and I set the table while Georges went to the boulangerie to pick up some fresh baguettes (a concession to the French was baguettes and a Camembert for a cheese course, even though the Pilgrims would have neither at THEIR table).
Ah, the table. We decided we wouldn't all fit (11 of us) at our table which normally seats 8 comfortably, so we moved the big table into our living room so we could have a kid's table using our coffee table with the poufs. This was quite an operation because when we moved in here, the movers hoisted everything up on their special lift and it came through our kitchen window, so naturally the table never made it out of the kitchen. Until the night before our Thanksgiving feast, that is, when Georges and I moved that heavy sucker by standing it on end and sliding it on the parquet floors (and scratched floors be damned, the parquet is going to be completely replaced some time after the new year, but that's another story). Where we were very lucky in that it JUST made it around all the angles and corners without any fingers or toes being smashed, nor did we have to dismantle it (Ikea). And look how pretty it looked with a simple arrangement of a chocolate-brown table cloth, our new red-and-white dishes, new wine glasses and a single vanilla-scented candle... plus we got to eat with that fabulous view over north-east Paris:
The first turkey seemed to be cooking very well. Only one problem: I could not, for the life of me, find my meat thermometer, the one I brought with me from the US but have never used. So we had to trust to the directions on the box for the timing, and hoped the inside would be as delicious (and fully cooked) as it appeared on the outside:
The Little Guy was pretty excited about this whole deal, not so much because he was "into" the idea of Thanksgiving, but because he likes parties and his friends were going to be there. And on cue, the guests started to arrive at 1pm, and by 1:15, everyone was there (a rarity in Paris where people are typically a good half-hour late). We had all the food ready (we had cooked the second turkey, Georges made goodies for a little apéritif, and there was nothing much left to do but enjoy it all!
After dinner, Kyliemac took the little ones aside and showed them how to make hand turkeys, and here's our first Hand Turkey Art Gallery (ages of artists going counter-clockwise from top right: 3, 7, 9, and None Of Your Business):
Sadly, I did not get a photo of Kyliemac's superb pumpkin pie, which was really excellent and tasted perfect to me. She and I were kind of counting on the fact that French people usually raise an eyebrow or turn their noses up at the idea of pumpkin pie, because hey, more for us then, right? However, my oldest step-son shocked me by saying he liked it, although I have no idea where he might have eaten it before that day. (And he's usually the most skeptical about unfamiliar foods.) We also served a lemon meringue tarte and a raspberry tarte, to have something a little more "French" at the table... a nice compromise especially considering I don't bake pies and we couldn't find an apple tarte at Picard.
Considering I only decided a week in advance that I wanted to throw this little shin-dig, I have to say that not only was I delighted with how everything turned out, but I actually had fun putting it all together with Georges, and was surprisingly NOT stressed out at all. I think part of the stress-free thing was that our guests were all people we knew well and could relax around, no matter what. And other than Kyliemac and Georges, none of them had ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner so they had nothing to compare it with. Since everyone seemed to be eating and enjoying themselves, I'll call it a big success!
Mission accomplished... my first Thanksgiving dinner (ever), and in France! Bon appetit! (Not that I plan on doing this again EVERY year.)
And now, as I listen to the Carpenter's Christmas album, shifting gears to the NEXT holiday, and think about all the things I need to do before we can head to New Jersey on Saturday for the holidays, I will sign off... but will try to do a much better job of signing back ON again more often. Two weeks with no posts? UNACCEPTABLE.
Hope your Thanksgiving was as fun and delicious as ours was!