I may be far from home, but that is no reason to skip Thanksgiving! The last two weeks I’ve done lesson plans on nothing but Thanksgiving. The students find it strange but also amazing. They love the idea of a big feast (we are in France after all), but they think some of our traditional foods a little strange. Mainly they have a hard time understanding candied yams and pumpkin pie. They tend to twist their face when I tell them pumpkin pie is a dessert (here, pumpkin is usually eaten roasted or in soup as a savory dinner food). And then there is the word “turkey”. I never thought of it as a particularly difficult word to say, but it is for the students. So, in the words of my French students, Thanksgiving is a big party where Americans eat “two-r-kay”. Not too bad.
Now, on to the actual festivities. There was a decent group of us Americans that go together last Friday to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was definitely impressed by the spread of food! Somehow we pulled together a fairly respectable Thanksgiving dinner. One assistant even had the foresight to bring gravy seasoning packets from the States! I baked a pumpkin pie that actually turned out really well (instead of cream it calls for coconut milk!). I shared some with my French roommates and totally converted them to the idea. But I think most of all they liked an excuse to eat as much whipped cream as they liked. If you would like the pumpkin pie recipe, you can find it here.
On actual Thanksgiving day I went down to the Marche de Noel (Christmas market) with a few friends and drank some mulled wine. Delicious! It definitely got me into the holiday spirit.
Lille has a small Christmas market, but it has everything you need, from hot drinks and chocolate covered waffles (a regional specialty), to stands selling crafts.
The Grand Place also turned into a winter wonderland with holiday scenes and a gigantic Ferris wheel and Christmas tree. They blast American Christmas music all day long. Sometimes I walk through the place just to sing to the holiday tunes. It definitely puts you in a cheery mood.
And to celebrate the start of winter, my roommates and I had a traditional raclette dinner. If you’ve never had raclette, well all you need to know is that it’s like making your own personal fondue on your plate and it’s amazing. Raclette is a type of cheese that you melt in a little machine. Then, you pour your melted cheese over dry ham and salami, potatoes, and any other veggies you might want. You eat yourself silly, and drink lots of white wine. You can find raclette machines in the states, and, for me, it was definitely worth the investment. Also, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to host a dinner party!
That’s all I have for today. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful start to the holiday season!