What to expect for your first Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday where you sit down with your family and friends for a fantastic meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and side dishes. It’s a day to give thanks to those around you and to remember how lucky you are to have them.

So why are all the Americans crazy over this Holiday? Well, it’s the first of the three celebrations that happen the end of the year. After Thanksgiving, we have Black Friday and then all the Christmas festivities to look forward to. Christmas lights, decorations and non-stop Christmas songs really gets us excited.

Sharing is an important concept during Thanksgiving and all the dishes are family sized where you can take as much or as little as you want. Normally, the host prepares the menu and while you should always ask what to bring, don’t bring a dish unless the host asks you to. Wine, cheese, and dessert are acceptable things to bring but the rule of thumb is to always check with the host.

Typical Dishes

Turkey – This dish is the star of the night and leaves little room for forgiveness if it doesn’t turn out well.  In some parts of the US, the turkey is fried but I grew up having the turkey slow cooked in the oven for 3 hours rubbed with butter and herbs and covered in bacon. Americans do love their bacon, I admit it.

Stuffing – Day old’s bread with sausage or bacon, celery, carrots, parsley, and onions might not sound appetizing but when you bake it in the oven for three hours, something amazing happens and it just tastes delicious.

Mac & Cheese – A very southern US dish that I adapted as I rarely found a good excuse to make mac & cheese. I like to use four different types of cheese for a  mouth watering dish.

Green Bean Casserole – Think haricot vert with crème fraîche, fresh mushrooms, salt and herbs. Add some fried onions for a southern touch.

Mashed Potatoes – Classic purée de pommes de terres maison dish baked in the oven. Add a sprinkle of parsley for a finishing touch.

Gravy – No turkey dish would be complete without gravy and it is easy to make with meat juices and flour.

Cranberry Sauce – For some, salty and sweet don’t mix. But I can’t imagine having turkey without some cranberry sauce on the side. It just adds a little something to the plate. You can find some at the Thanksgiving Store or Carrefour.

Pumpkin Pie – Pumpkin puree with sugar and spice makes this Pie a delicious ending to the meal. Normally not too sweet, I find that it goes really well with coffee and tea.

Where to buy your Ingredients

As this is my second Thanksgiving in Paris, I pre-ordered my fresh Turkey from a local boucherie two weeks in advance. You can also head over to the “Thanksgiving Store” to order a pre-cooked turkey. Turkeys are sold at a minimum of 4kg in France at the boucherie.

Most of my fresh produce is bought at La Retour à la Terre and you find a list of the best organic “bio” supermarkets here.

What to Expect

Dinner usually happens around 7/8pm with guests rolling in anytime after 5pm. Come hungry but don’t expect snacks or appetizers before the meal as you should be famished by the time you take your first bite of dinner.  Don’t worry, drinks will be served to hold you over until dinnertime.

Expect a table full of food and expect to take seconds. Prepare a list of a few things that you are thankful for as we like to go around the table to ask what you are thankful for before we start eating.

It’s a day to indulge and a day to celebrate but most importantly, a day to give thanks to the wonderful people around you. Happy Eating! Gooble Gooble.




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