Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey on the Tower

The memory of snuggling up with pajama-ed siblings on the couch to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade tugged lightly at the corner of my mind as I woke up Thursday and finished my reading for class. Luckily, the long-anticipated, unorthodox Thanksgiving-on-the-Eiffel-Tower awaited me after classes were through.

Thanks to ungrateful trustfundergrands there were a handful of extra tickets left unclaimed last minute, allowing me to bring along Julia (a friend from French class at St. Mary's studying in Bordeaux who dropped into town rather last minute) and Virginie (a sweet French girl who lives a few doors down from me). The Eiffel tower began its hourly sparkling right as we walked up, making up for the icy rain. We presented our VIP restaurant tickets and bypassed the tourist line, ascending to the restaurant level via a diagonal elevator in the North leg of the tour. Julia bought me a pint while we waited for our table reservations, and (small world!) ran into a friend, Chris, from her home town, who joined our table for dinner a few minutes later.

The dinner itself was good but "gourmet" (in other words, marked by small portions and extravagant garnishes) so it was a far cry from the heaping plates and humble foods of an American Thanksgiving. We were also missing a few Thanksgiving staples: stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes...yeah. Basically, the French chef's interpretation of the holiday was to incorporate pumpkin into every course. Our appetizer was a savory pumpkin soup, our main came accompanied by a pat of pumpkin/sweet potato purée with chestnuts, and our dessert was a strange take on pumpkin pie that, although tasty, had no nutmeg or cloves or ginger or whatever it is that usually gives pie its spice. The main course was about half right--a tender slice of turkey in gravy with cranberry sauce (thank God), but also came, rather oddly, with a moroccan pancake and some paté. And the whole meal was paired with a pretty full-bodied Bordeaux. An odd and slightly un-satisfying experience overall.

Nonetheless, I suppose it was appropriate to enjoy a Frenchified Thanksgiving with the people closest to family for me right now. And after all, Thanksgiving is a pretty wacked-out holiday no matter how you look at it--a fact that became very clear in our attempts to explain it to Virginie ("what? It's a celebration of colonial domination? That involves gorging yourselves and then going into a shopping frenzy afterward? And this relates to family how?"). Hope everyone States-side enjoyed their tryptophan daze. Miss you all and excited to see you at Christmas.

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