Getting my feast on

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Next week, Gui and I are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, and I've been going crazy trying to prepare for the big meal. I've never even roasted a chicken before, but I've decided I'm going to tackle an 8 kilogram (read: 17 lbs) turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, greenbean casserole and possibly mashed potatoes. Am I out of my mind? Quite possibly. Besides the fact that our apartment has never catered a full meal to more than five people at a time, I've actually never cooked even a regular meal for more than five people. My poor mom has been inundated with crazy emails from me, begging for recipes and helpful hints on how to give a proper Thanksgiving meal to a houseful of hungry expats. This weekend, I'm planning on doing a "trial run" with a roasted chicken and a small batch of stuffing to get myself into the spirit and make sure I don't forget anything for the big day. I am really excited, though. I LOVE Thanksgiving - the food, the people, the music!

It's true that finding all the tools and foodstuffs necessary to replicate the traditional November meal is quite the challenge in Paris, but I've been pretty lucky to find almost everything I need. We had to special order a turkey since "turkey season" in Paris doesn't start until mid-December (who knew?). I'm crossing my fingers that the big bird will be able to fit into our French-sized oven, which, it seems, is measured by volume and not linearly (because it's important to know how much liquid can fit into an oven, apparently). I plan on subbing (or recreating) a few things as well because as much as I'd like the convenience of poultry seasoning and pumpkin spice, I'm not really so keen on paying 9 euros for a 0.65-ounce canister. If there's a lesson to be learned by living far away from the (culinary) comforts of home, it's definitely how to be innovative.

Gui and I are also trying to reorganize our living room to better accommodate our guests. The thing about living in a Parisian-sized apartment, it's that's it's all about the arrangement of furniture (and the placement of walls, which we unfortunately can't change as renters). We've got a lot to do and plan this weekend, and with the unfortunate schedule that I inherited for my French integration formations next week, I've got even more reason to make the most of this weekend's time.


Evolutionary Revolutionary said...

Ummmm....Did I forget to tell you that I did a Thanksgiving in a space basically the same space as yours?? Turkey and all.

Let me know if you need me to come over and help. Remember I am close by!!

Nicole said...

Our old apartment was miniscule and over the course of 4 years and 4 Thanksgiving dinners, I learned a few tricks that I will pass on:
1. If the turkey is too big for your oven (almost guaranteed as the average French oven won't take an 8 kilo bird) then start out by just cutting off the legs. You either stick them in the pan on the side or cook them separate.
2. You should try and borrow one of those countertop "ovens" from a friend. Once you have your bird in the oven there is no room for stuffing or casserole and its hard to keep things warm while alternating cooking times.
Good luck- in the end, you're right that its not actually that tricky to make a successful Thanksgiving dinner once you've managede the hardest part, which is collecting all the ingredients!

misplaced texan said...

evolutionary: Um, I'm letting you know that you need to come over and help! :) Whenever you about the night before? I'll provide wine! :)

nicole: Thanks so much!! I figured I'd try to take it down the street to my father-in-law's American-style kitchen if it was too big. But, you totally reminded me that we have a countertop oven in our cave that I'd forgotten all about! If I can manage the extra space in my kitchen, I might unearth it and haul it to the apt. I'm hoping to do as much as I can in advance or the night before to save time and space.

Janelle said...

The best advice I have for you is to make a schedule of what goes in the oven / on the stove when and at what temperature. Allow extra time in case something isn't ready quite on time. Saved my butt last year.

Fned said...

Wow!! In all my years living here I've yet to try and cook a TG dinner but kudos to you for trying in the first year!! I'm sure it will turn out great! By the looks of things you've got all the logistical details down so let us know how it goes!! :D


The Big Finn said...

You say you're feeding hungry "expats". Are they American/Canadian expats? If that's the case, then I have one word for you for your next Thanksgiving dinner:


Anne said...

I enjoy your blog. Thanksgiving is more an exercise in getting everything on the table in the right order, not in fine cooking. One trick: count up all the chopped onions, nuts, celery, parsley, etc. you will need across all your recipes. Then chop all the onions at once, divvying them up for use in individual recipes. You'll also find that a little of that beaujolais nouveau makes everything run a little more smoothly!

misplaced texan said...

janelle: Thanks, very good advice, and totally something my (slightly) Type A personality would benefit from using.

fned: Thanks, girl! The over-achiever in me is sometimes a little too optimistic, but I'm excited about giving it a go! Updates (and pics) will certainly be forthcoming!

tbf: LOL. As a matter of fact, most of the invités are North American (with French counterparts), save a very lovely Australian. ;) And, most everyone is bringing some sort of side dish or drink, but I really enjoy cooking and want to try to pull it off this time. Although, if I'm not in the States next year, I wouldn't be surprised if I heed your advice. :)

Anne: Genius advice! Sounds like it's coming from someone with experience. :) And, score on the Beaujolais - I was just telling Gui we need to pick up a case this weekend.

Leesa said...

Hey there...

Last year we hosted 30 people (at our friend's place, not our 40 m2 apart)!! We had half Americans/half French... I think we had a TON of food so this year, I may not be so ambitious... But, it was the very FIRST one I ever did on my own... Mom (RIP) always did Thanksgiving for the family so I'm carrying on her favorite tradition here in France and sharing it with the French folks!!!
If you need any recipes, let me know.. I have tons...
Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving.. Can't wait to hear how it goes..

Leah said...

I've done Thanksgiving at my place for the past 2 yrs and I would definitely recommend enlisting some help and have 1 or 2 people there to chop/slice/dice/etc whatever you need. Also, timing is key. But, most of all, try not to get so stressed that you don't enjoy the moment because what fun is that? Good luck!

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