Talking Turkey in Paris


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If you’ve been in Paris for longer than a few weeks, holidays like Thanksgiving might be just the thing that trigger ‘culture shock’. Culture shock can occur when you’re living far from home and can hit you when you least expect it (usually after about six months is the normal time frame). You’ve been totally immersing yourself in the culture where you’re sojourning and suddenly, you wake up thinking about mashed potatoes drizzled with butter.

Paris has a number of havens – for such flights of fancy – particularly The Restaurant/Shop
Thanksgiving in the Marais district. Sadly, if you haven’t booked for your Thanksgiving Day meal long in advance, you’re not likely to get a table, but there are other restaurants offering American food in Paris to assuage your longing for a drumstick.

Thanksgiving has had a much better reception in France than Halloween, probably because it has roots based in historical events (the Pilgrims’ settlement in North America). It represents one of those few national holidays based on accord rather than confrontation. And, best of all, this is a holiday that’s all about celebrating food.

It’s one of the few holidays that the industrial complex has not been able to totally wrest from the public consciousness. Although uniquely ‘New World’ Thanksgiving makes sense to the rest of the world. Aside from the most staunch atheists who might say ‘give thanks to whom’ (for which you could always say – ‘whoever happens to be sitting next to you’, it’s a holiday that is basically non-denominational.

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If you’re in Paris, and you’re looking for turkey in the grocery store.
The word is ‘dinde’ (pronounced as you would say, don’t get up your dander).
Normally, aside from Christmas turkeys ‘dinde’ is sold as ‘escalope de dinde’ or turkey cutlets. You can try cooking these Norman style with a little bit of ‘creme fraische’ or with a dash of Calvados.

Calvados is apple brandy which is a nice little drink for the November cold snap. A little bit goes a long ways. Here’s hoping you find some friends with whom to share a little bit of ‘calva’ for your Thanksgiving celebration (with or without the dinde).

If you’re in Paris, or planning on going to Paris, count your blessings. Many dream to visit this city which has welcomed visitors from all corners of the globe. (Any Parisians reading this, remember that even with strikes, you’re still one of the most envied group of citydwellers in the world).

So here’s my thank-you list for the City of Paris – and friends in France!
Thank you for:
1. Keeping Paris intact throughout the ages.
2. Keeping Paris a city that welcomes visitors from round the world.
3. Allowing Paris to be a city where visitors can enjoy French culture and also introduce others to their native cultures.
4. Tolerance.
5. Freedom of expression.
6. Great wine.
7. Beautiful public gardens.
8. Great conversations.
9. Your curiosity.
10. For being yourself.