So you may or may not know that I graduated with a major in French Language and Literature. In 2007, I spent a semester as an exchange student in a teeny tiny town called Besançon, France. The Université de Franche-Comté had a pretty robust foreign exchange program so incidentally I associated with more foreign students than actual French students. But c'est la vie. When Thanksgiving rolled around, it occurred to us Americans that we could not miss our favorite eating holiday of the year. And what could be more Thanksgiving-y than inviting all of our new non-American friends to come feast with us?? The only problem was that our "student housing" that I can only describe as something between cell blocks and Soviet-style living quarters (we had to push a giant button every 45 seconds to keep our shower water running) did not exactly have a chef's kitchen. No refrigerator, no microwave, and definitely no oven. Just two tiny hot plates.
We had become fast friends with the French owners of Le Madigan's Irish Pub, which had a back room. After clumsily explaining to them the importance of this holiday, they graciously allowed us to take over the back section of the pub and even offered use of their kitchen so that we could make our traditional dishes. Business owners are a bit more laid back over there. We promised that we would order plenty of wine in return.
So we donned our homemade Thanksgiving hats à la third grade (thanks Kelly!), crafted some fancy international hand-turkeys for decoration and went to work putting together our very best Thanksgiving celebration.
From the left, that is a French turkey, a Scottish turkey, and a Welsh dragon turkey.
I don't know if the Madigan's folks were so moved by the fraternal nature of our American holiday or if they just simply took pity on how broke we all were, but those amazing bar owners ended up giving us free Beaujolais Nouveau. In retrospect, it was probably very cheap leftovers from the annual Beaujolais celebration on November 3rd, but even cheap vin français is good vin français.
We had an amazing turnout with students from all over the world -- American, English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Spanish, French, Japanese, Italian, German to name a few. It's one of my favorite memories of my time en France and will certainly go down in history as my favorite non-American most-American Thanksgiving of all time.
I would love to hear about your favorite Thanksgiving memories!