The Holidays in Paris: Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner

20 Nov 2018 2:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Well, Monoprix has started putting out Christmas decorations so it must be the holiday season.  Before turning to all of the things that Christmas entails (the decorations, the gifts, the food or all of the food!), we have Thanksgiving this week to prepare (eek!) and prepare!  So, who better to turn to for tips and advice for preparing this week's meal, advice that I know we will be using time and time again as we go through the holiday season, than our Chef in Residence, Veronique Bawol.  For those of you who do not know, Veronique Bawol not only hosts several wonderful activities passing on her culinary skills to our members but also the owner / founder of Cuisine Elegante.  Whether you are looking to do something special with friends visiting in from out of town or just want to pick up some new culinary tricks, check out her company or grab her at one of the upcoming meetings or activities.  A note that Veronique actually wrote of this blog last week for posting but I have been remiss in getting this out to you, so my apologies both Veronique who so graciously obliged my request for a holiday cooking blog entry and to you, our wonderful member readers if my delay has cost you any yummy goodness on Thursday!  Also, please note that we will be posting a series of blogs with tips for the holidays over the coming weeks.  If you have any specific questions you want answered, just shoot me an email at awgvpcomms@gmail.com!

As a French woman married to an American, Thanksgiving was one of the big culinary discoveries for me. I remember being impressed by the amount of preparation and work that went into the meal my sister-in-law made for our family. It was truly a feast. So when my husband asked me if I could make a Thanksgiving meal for our American and French friends the year after, I was a bit nervous.

First of all, my kitchen was very small. Then it’s not so easy to find all of the ingredients that go into the American meal in Paris. Turkey is not a staple of French cuisine except occasionally for Christmas, and you can’t find Butterballs in frozen food section of Parisian grocers.  But I worked to find what I needed, or come up with French substitutes.

The most important part of the puzzle was the Turkey, but I found a butcher who told me that he could order a turkey and make sure it was the size I needed, so that was a relief. When I went to pick it up the night before our party, I went to see the butcher, who presented me with two small birds instead of a turkey. When I asked what was going on, he said that they couldn’t find any turkeys, so was giving me two guinea fowl instead!

I was furious, but had no choice so left with the two small birds, which I did my best to stuff and cook. Everyone was very surprised by the presentation, but had a good laugh when I told them the story, and it was one of my most memorable Thanksgivings.

Needless to say, since then I have found a wonderful butcher who knows where to find the best turkeys available.  Not only that, but if you don’t have the time or the right oven to cook it, they will cook it for you so all you have to do is take the credit. It’s a very busy shop, so my advice is to go there in person at least a week before to order your bird, and pick it up the day before your meal (Les Viandes du Champ de Mars, 122 rue Saint-Dominique, Paris 75007)

For the vegetables, I always find that the best and the freshest are to be found in the open air markets that are a fixture of Parisian life. My favorite is the Marché Saxe-Breteuil. My favorite stand there is called the Bar Aux Saveurs, who specialize in many kinds of vegetables (sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, parsnips, pumpkins and potimarrons, butternuts squash and colorful carrots and beetroots, many kinds of onions, herbs, fresh sage), that are forgotten strains and varieties, all authentic and probably closer to the kinds of vegetables the Pilgrims ate than the modern produce you find at most other stands. Magalie is the owner, is passionate about her products and is used to helping Americans get ready for the big meal. (Marché Saxe/Breteuil, Avenue Saxe, Paris 75007, Thursday and Saturdays mornings)

Otherwise (Marché Président Wilson, Avenue du President Wilson 75016 Paris which is amazing too, Wednesdays and Saturdays mornings)

For the aluminum cooking pan, I go to Real Mac Coy, I get fresh cranberry at the fruits and vegetables stalls on rue cler, they already have some. You will find anything you need at The Real Mac Coy, 194 rue de Grenelle 75007 Paris (Giffy corn bread, cranberry  jelly, but watch out, it’s quite expensive!) If you have a car, Costco is an option or La Grande Epicerie Paris 38 rue de Sévres 75007 Paris has also a US section.

For my stuffing, I order XXL pain de mie, the one restaurants use for their « Croque-Monsieur ». I order them at Nelly Julien 85 rue St Dominique 5 days before and I buy my corn flour at Bio c’est Bon or Naturalia (they are all over Paris)

I probably forgot something but will be happy to answer your questions if you need any help.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Watch those wallets during the Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales (yes, I have already started stocking my online cart!)


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