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Thanksgiving in the South of France

November 24th, 2016 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Languedoc, Paris


We now have added the Languedoc to places in the world where we have had Thanksgiving dinner.

That ends a period of five years out of seven when we celebrated Thanksgiving in Abu Dhabi. The exceptions were … when we spent it in Paris (inviting some people over to where we were staying) and when we spent it with family in Southern California.

And probably does not match the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong (in 2008) for “most exotic” venue.

But this is home, now, and we like to think the first of many here in the south of France.

We had in our house 80 percent of all Americans who live in our town of 600 — us two and the couple who live on the other side of the village. All we were missing was the long-timer, who for decades was the only American in town. Maybe next year.

The excitement?

Finding out if the new kitchen was up to the task of producing the Thanksgiving essentials — the special-ordered, 14-pound turkey; gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes.

The oven/range is almost brand new, but in the first week it tended 1) to run a little hot (like, by 50 degrees) and 2) to belch soot.

We have not entirely solved the former, but the latter was corrected during a visit from a repairman, who had a part that reduced the flow of butane gas into the oven.

The turkey was done a half-hour before we thought it would be, so it was good we checked … and was a nice bird.

We had five guests, the two Americans mentioned earlier, a Yank from a nearby town, our English friend from down the street and a friend of hers, visiting, who was declared it her “first Thanksgiving dinner” with Yanks.

(This was a semi-regular theme in Abu Dhabi. Brits or Emiratis or Germans invited to Thanksgiving. A bit puzzled by the whole thing. Why turkey? Why now? What is this thing you call “stuffing”? And all you do is eat?!?)

Our guests provided key help with the meal, providing a bottle of white wine, green beans, fruit compote, stuffed dates, profiteroles and, the big one, a “famous” homemade apple pie.

(After hearing about the latter, which completely lived up to its billing, we shifted towards cups of pumpkin custard, to represent pumpkin pie, which it did nicely … and we learned anew that non-Americans think pumpkin pie is weird.)

We had a Champagne toast, in which I gave thanks for the wonder of the secular universality that is Thanksgiving, and how Americans are not allowed to demonize each other on this one day per year. (Or try, anyway.)

As is often the case, we prepared too much food. I made enough mashed potatoes (the limit of my food-prep contribution) to feed a platoon, and our table (before food, photo above) was practically groaning from all the stuff on it.

Our guests are clever, worldly people, and the conversation never faltered. The group did about 30 minutes alone on “life and times in Africa” which included the tale (not ours) of “nearly being arrested on Thanksgiving in Uganda”.

Dessert was profiteroles, the pumpkin cups (with whipped cream) and the apple pie, which was wonderful. The French don’t really make pie, and it was great to have some.

After another hour of conversation, our friends were out in the darkened village.

We did without the NFL, but we pretty much covered the other bases, when it comes to an American Thanksgiving away from a USA home.



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