Here are my thoughts on about navigating Thanksgiving in Paris...
Autumn in a foreign country has played with my emotions a bit. I didn't realize all that I appreciated about this season until I realized some of my fall staples had disappeared. Things I miss in descending order are pumpkin sweets (pie, coffee creamer, cheesecake...I can keep going for a while), candy corn, and American football. Some of you know me and the last one made you raise your eyebrow and say, "really?" To those, I would answer that it is still a part of autumn for me after sitting through almost every high school football game for marching band.
The culmination of the wonderfulness of autumn can be found in Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving to me has always been a long weekend full of family, friends, and massive amounts of delicious food. I found last year that it is quite different to wake up on Thanksgiving in France as just another day, business as usual. Yet I know all my friends and family are waking up to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then documenting grand tables heaping with homemade food on Facebook.
Now that I have grown more accustomed to life in France and have a great network of friends here, I don't get overly homesick often. Thanksgiving still proves to be difficult though. Thankfully I have discovered some bonnes adresses so here's my go-to places for Thanksgiving food needs:
Getting Supplies for Preparing a Thanksgiving Meal -
The good news is if you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner in Paris, there are stores to get the essentials. Many ingredients can be found on the shelves of regular grocery stores, but you definitely will not find your Ocean Spray cranberry sauce or Libby's canned pumpkin. The searching can stop with (appropriately named) specialty store in the Marais, Thanksgiving.
It goes without saying that these imported American staples come at a price. I took a peek yesterday and to give you an idea, both a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce and a regular bag of Jet-puffed marshmallows each cost 4.50 € ($6.05) while Libby's canned pumpkin goes for 3.95 € ($5.31). I may return to pick up a bag of pecans if I can't find it at a better price - a 200 gram-bag (2 cups) is 6.95 € ($9.35)!
It is significantly more expensive than the US, but last year I had no regrets about splurging for cranberry sauce, an essential side dish on my Thanksgiving plate. (This year I've learned to think ahead a bit and asked my mother-in-law to transport some cranberry sauce straight from the motherland on her recent visit.)
Here's the address, along with two other suggestions:
Thanksgiving, 20, rue Saint Paul 75004 Paris
Le Bon Marché, 24, Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris (they sell American products in their L'Epicerie du Monde)
Tang Frères,48, Avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris (though I have still not been here yet, this large Asian supermarket is known for carrying foods exotic to France - even peanut butter)
Thanksgiving Day Dinner at a Restaurant -
Thanksgiving abroad is usually celebrated within the expat community on the weekend surrounding Thanksgiving. Missing loved ones aside, expat Thanksgiving proves to be a pretty epic meal. We may be improvising on ingredients over here (Mimolette cheese instead of cheddar, possibly having to fry one's own shoestring onions for green bean casserole), an expat meal is something special. It features the best dishes of Thanksgiving tables across America as everyone is proud to reproduce grandma's best stuffing or dad's top-secret sweet potato pie recipe. I even learned some new foods last year, like southern chess pie from a Kentuckian.
Perhaps a benefit of living abroad is having the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving multiple times. Despite a wonderful meal with friends, Michael and I still like to have a Thanksgiving meal on the actual day.
Like last year, next Thursday you can find us at Joe Allen for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Though it is odd to me to eat a Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, the food was delicious. We were aware that we still in France as we selected a bottle of Bordeaux wine to go with dinner and had the option of fois gras as a starter, but perhaps it was melding the best of both worlds. Anyway, if you are looking for an American meal for dinner on Thanksgiving, look into this option:
Joe Allen, 30 Rue Pierre Lescot, 75001 Paris