Many people are surprised to hear that the French do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Well, the French didn’t have pilgrims or Native Americans!
This “most traditional” American holiday (which is celebrated in Canada, but in October rather than November) is all about the food and the thanks. Turkeys are sold by the millions in the weeks before the big event, pies are made in advance, menus are planned and changed, and turkey basters are retrieved from the backs of kitchen drawers. Each family has their own traditions, their own “must haves,” and most everyone has an opinion about what does or does not belong in stuffing. All who gather for this delicious meal give thanks for the blessings in their lives.
This year I’d like to propose a slightly different Thanksgiving Dinner: rather than turkey, why not roast a duck or a goose? How about some delicate hors d’oeuvres before the main event? Why not sprinkle a little French flair into this beloved meal and serve the dinner in courses? How about making tarts for dessert rather than pies?
What I’m suggesting is not shocking, it’s a twist. You can still use the same flavor profiles (potatoes, green beans, pumpkin, cranberry) but you can infuse new life into this annual event by making it slightly more gourmet. Roasting a duck or a goose, for example, will still produce a succulent main dish with crispy skin and a side of gravy, but your guests will ooh and aah at the novelty of it being different. Miniature tarts for dessert will be both dainty and glamorous, and everyone can still have all three kinds with whipped cream (only you get to call it crème Chantilly this year).
I love purchasing quality meats online through D’Artagnan Foods. They have a large array of meats and gourmet products (including foie gras, truffle oil, caviar, and charcuterie) that they will deliver right to your door. Your first order usually offers a nice discount coupon when you sign up. They also have lovely gift boxes if you are looking for a something to send to a foodie friend. Check with D’Artagnan customer service to order your duck or goose in time for your holiday meal.
In addition to a new main dish, try some familiar-but-slightly-different side dishes from the recipes in my cookbook Ooh la la! French Inspirations for Entertaining and Travel, available here. Carrot custard is a great stand-in for sweet potato casserole, and I have several green bean and potato recipes to suit anyone’s palate.
We have so much to be grateful for. I hope you and your loved ones are able to safely see each other this Thanksgiving to celebrate your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!