Paris Thanksgiving: Le Jour de Merci Donnant
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Holiday decorations dance in store windows and are strung and hung along the Paris streets.
But wait a minute. We haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet. Let’s slow down the Black Friday race and take a moment to celebrate our favorite American F-focused holiday (food, family, friends, and football).
Many Americans in Paris get nostalgic for Thanksgiving. So the options for celebrating grow with each passing year.
The chefs-at-heart will make dinner (perhaps with a little help from a caterer or local butcher).
Others may find a community that embraces the Thanksgiving spirit (such as The American Church or Democrats Abroad). And some will seek out a Thanksgiving-friendly restaurant.
When I first came to Paris, the options were slim. The choice was pretty much make your own dinner. For a noncook, that was terrifying. Fortunately, at the time, there was a store in the Marais called Thanksgiving that had everything you could possibly need. Reminiscent of a 1950s general store in the heartland of America, it was crowded with products that the owner thought Americans might miss most, from Fruit Loops to a shelf full of every Jello flavor imaginable.
The store, true to its name, could bring memories of past American Thanksgiving dinners to life, including marshmallows for the sweet potatoes, French’s fried onions and Campbell’s mushroom soup for the green bean casserole, Pepperidge Farm stuffing, and Ocean Spray cranberries.
For my first Thanksgiving, I bought it all. About 500 euros later, I left the store, wondering what had just happened.
These days, you can find the elusive ingredients at a variety of stores, in person or online. And many more restaurants offer traditional Thanksgiving meals — on Thursday itself (the fourth Thursday in November) and, often, into the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Dandy Dinde
You can order your turkey (dinde) at your local butcher or volailler. If you prefer the American style turkey (lots of white meat), you can specify that, or you can order the gamier French turkey (dinde fermière), with feathers and all. (Some say that once you’ve tried the French turkey, you can never go back.) You should order in advance, since turkeys are really more of a Christmas tradition in France.
If your oven isn’t large enough to roast your turkey (a common occurrence in Paris), you can, in advance, see if your butcher will spit-roast it for you.
You can also order raw turkeys from Thanksgiving-friendly stores like The Real McCoy in the 7th arrondissement or Costco in Villebon-sur-Yvette. The Real McCoy also has cooked turkeys, ordered in advance.
You can shop for American side dishes such as StoveTop stuffing, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce (or fresh cranberries), Graham pie crust, or canned pumpkin at The Real McCoy or online from In Good We Trust. If you’re a regular Paris shopper, outdoor markets and gourmet stores abound.
To supplement your cooking or to take the cooking out of your hands completely, help is on the way from several local caterers such as Joyous Cooking or Louise et Clara Traiteur.
If you choose to leave your kitchen behind and dine out, the restaurant list this year is extensive. We’ll start with the legacy Thanksgivings, such as Breakfast in America and Joe Allen. These restaurants have been offering this holiday tradition for years.
This year, the traditional dinner expands to both BIA restaurants (rue des Écoles and rue Mahler) with two seatings (6:00 pm and 8:30 pm). Two enthusiastic Frenchmen have recently taken the restaurant reins. They understand the nostalgia that Americans (and French anglophiles) feel for this holiday and are guided by the expertise of the original owner/founder, American Craig Carlson, who made this such a fun tradition. The price is 46 euros.
Joe Allen’s is a well-known friend to American culture and will host Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday November 23–25 from noon to 11:30 pm. Price is 59 euros (25 euros for children). Email for reservations: [email protected]
The menu has some detours from tradition, with starters of pumpkin squash chowder, crab cakes, wild mushrooms, caesar salad, or buffalo chicken wings. The main dish includes options of turkey, ham, or grilled tuna steak. Lots of dessert choices, including a fruit and cheese plate (very healthy!)
Back again this year for Thanksgiving, giving us the southern touch, is Laurel Sanderson’s Treize au Jardin, near the Luxembourg Gardens. Treize is offering a Thanksgiving menu on Thursday and Friday, November 24–25, based on their usual homemade organic products. The menu includes roasted quail or turkey, a range of vegetable side dishes, and, of course, the famous Treize southern biscuit. Price from 55 euros.
Email for more information: [email protected]
Famous for its weekend brunch, Sunday in Soho offers an innovative Thanksgiving menu on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 at 6:30 pm and 9 pm, with a late afternoon special seating at 4:30 on Thursday. Cost is from 70 euros.
This well-known wine tasting venue in the 1st arrondissement is offering a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with two seatings, on November 24 (7:30 pm and 9:30 pm). Price is 80 euros, including champagne and three paired wines.
Milagro (Spanish for “miracle”) on Avenue Bosquet is offering American chef Justin Kent’s Thanksgiving menu on November 24, 25, and 26, as well as an option to pre-order takeaway dinners. Price is 50 euros.
For those who want to rock out for Thanksgiving, head over to the Hard Rock Café for a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner Thursday, November 24 from 11:30 am to 11 pm. Price is 29,40 euros (10,95 for children).
American chef Thomas Chisholm is presenting an exclusive Thanksgiving menu on Thursday, November 24, with mini corn crab cakes, truffled macaroni and cheese, and other Thanksgiving surprises. Price is 90 euros.
The sisters who love California, Capucine and Juliette, invite you to their restaurant in the 10th arrondissement for a healthy Thanksgiving lunch or dinner on Thursday and Friday and dinner on Saturday (November 24–26). The chef adds some interesting touches to the menu, with spicy labneh and roasted squash and pozole verde, (pulled turkey and tortillas), as well as the traditional Thanksgiving cast of characters. Price is 55 euros.
Le Coq & Fils (formerly Le Coq Rico)
If you’re looking for an exceptional turkey, you are likely to find it at Antoine Westermann’s poultry-specialized restaurant in Montmartre. Their Thanksgiving dinner features the Perle Noire Bressane AOP turkey (free-range for 220 days), a bird with star quality. The taste is enhanced with the chef’s unique approach—slow poaching in broth followed by roasting on a spit.
The Thanksgiving dinner is exclusively on Thursday, November 24. Price begins at 44 euros (you can then add side dishes).
If the idea of a Thanksgiving feast is appealing, then the all-you-can-eat buffet at Mama’s Diner at La Defense is a slice of heaven. Add music and board games and you’ll have the ultimate Thanksgiving. Friday, November 25 at 8 pm. Price is 39 euros (price for children under 12 is 16 euros).
Thanksgiving at the Sofitel Le Scribe Paris Opéra will include a special menu by chef Denis Rippa and an evening of American songs on Thursday, November 24 at the Rivages restaurant. Price is 65 euros.
Community gatherings are a special way to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family and to meet like-minded Thanksgiving enthusiasts. Here are a few options.
Saturday, 26 November, 18h30
40 euros for adults; 25 euros for children (16 and under)
Democrats Abroad, Saturday, November 26 at Joe Allen Restaurant. The price is 55 USD for adults and 30 USD for children under 12.
The American University Clubs of France
Annual Thanksgiving Dinner at the historic École Militaire on Tuesday, November 22 at 7 pm. Price is 70 euros for members of AUC and their guests.
Bonjour Paris hopes that you are on your way to a special day of American tradition. If you haven’t yet made plans, there are still reservations possible at many of these venues.
The simple truth: Thanksgiving should be a verb, a word of action. We should never grow tired of giving thanks for all the good things in life — food, friends, family, and freedom.
P.S. Thanksgiving Trivia: The average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. Go for it!
Lead photo credit : Photo by Arbaz Khan/Pixabay
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