I am now sufficiently recovered from Thanksgiving to write about our first holiday with Mom.
In fact, we haven’t spent that many holidays en famille over recent years for various reasons. When we were in L.A., JM and I usually hosted a Turkey Day feast for up to 15 friends, but over the last few years before our move, that had dwindled as folks had other things to do until we finally stopped.
I did make a Thanksgiving meal for us here, but it was just the two of us, so wasn’t that big a deal. After all, how much food can two Possums eat? And, there was always the problem of getting an actual turkey in November. Generally fresh turkeys are not available until closer to Christmas.
This year, however, I was determined to make a truly festive holiday to welcome Mom to her new home. I was able to order a turkey in advance from our wonderful butchers, the Antonios. It was a farm raised, organic bird that was probably running around chatting to its friends the day before we got it (I don’t want to think about that too much).
First, I thought I would invite our friends Peter and Margaret to join us. Then, it kind of just expanded as Thanksgiving tends to do, and we were joined by Cathy, Maggie-the-Human and Martin from Rivel and Hazel from Chalabre as well.
Knowing that I would have cooking whizzes Maggie and Margaret at the table inspired me. I started cooking on Tuesday. I knew that for our British and Scottish friends Thanksgiving was a new experience. Many of our traditional foods are not that well known outside of the States, or if they are, they are prepared differently. I have to admit that I did have to control myself, because I always have a tendency to want to make way too much food when feeding a large group.
I finally settled on the following: turkey (goes without saying), mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup and pineapple, homemade cranberry sauce, corn pudding, oven-roasted butter beans, stuffing, gravy, apple cake with panna cotta and pumpkin pie. The delightful Maggie brought along some heavenly chocolate dipped figs.
Friends arrived between 5 and 6, and we finally sat down to eat at 6. I decided to serve buffet style so that no one would feel they HAD to taste something they didn’t like. I’m pleased to say that everyone liked the exotic things like the corn pudding, and even those who had never tasted pumpkin pie (and thought it looked suspicious) tasted it and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I’m now out of the canned pumpkin I brought back from the States. I do not think that the fresh pumpkin one buys here in France is at all the same as the sugar pumpkins we use for pies in America. They don’t have the richness of flavor nor the same texture, so it may be my last pumpkin pie for quite some time, unless I find someone coming for a visit who doesn’t mind putting a few cans in their luggage!
Everything was going exceedingly well; both conversation and wine were flowing nicely when suddenly, at 9 pm, the lights went out! I’m always worried that it’s us, but a quick peak outside confirmed that the whole village was dark. Luckily, I had a camping lantern downstairs because we need it when we go to check on things in the new house, which doesn’t have the electricity turned on yet. I also found some candles, so the ambiance was cozy, but I could tell everyone was eager to get home to check on things so we broke the party up.
Dishes by candlelight was less atmospheric but necessary. When we walked the dogs our mayor was doing the rounds with one of the municipal councilors, and we learned that a transformer had blown somewhere and the electric company was on the case. It was a memorable end to a memorable evening.
I am thinking of seeing if someone wants to hold a larger Thanksgiving meal for the village next year. It may not be French tradition, but it is a lot of fun and I don’t think you need to be traditional to find time to be thankful for the blessings of the previous seasons.
Ciao for now.