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French Culture

Desperately Seeking Turkey

Olivier Karfis By Olivier Karfis on November 19, 2017
No turkey for Thanksgiving in France

For our first Thanksgiving in France after living 18 years in the US, I was very excited to get some of our English speaking friends together and throw my famous Thanksgiving meal this Saturday (as much as I wish it, today is not a holiday in France :-(

1 – Buying a Turkey in France

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I’ve been planning the menu for a while and at the beginning of the week, I went to my butcher to order a turkey (“une dinde”)

Even though you do not see any turkeys in the poultry section of your typical French supermarket – in the countryside that is, in big French towns, you always find everything – I (mistakenly) assumed that you could just order one like you can any other specialty meat…

[blackfriday]The look on the butcher’s face was priceless:

  • “Mais?!? Ce n’est pas du tout la saison de Noël!” (but it’s not Christmas season yet!).

She then proceeded to get on the phone with her supplier for more than 10 minutes (while everyone else was giving me the evil eye for holding up the line).

 

2 – Turkey is a Christmas Only Dish in France

Turns out that the production has not started yet because a whole turkey is a Christmas only type dish here.  The production is actually starting “en fin de semaine” (end of the week) so I’m cutting it possibly too close to get a fresh Turkey delivered Friday.

So I was told they would call me back to confirm the next AM… then they did not call back (typical French) and I called…

Then they told me that the main person was gone, to call back the next morning and here I am today at 6:30 in the morning in my pajamas trying to get hold of my butcher to get a turkey for the next day :-(

I’d even settle for a large capon (“un chapon”) but same deal, production has not started…

I’ll learn around noon today if they were able to order one just in time…

 

3 – The Solution: Find a Local Turkey Farmer

So lesson learned… Next year, I will have to find a local farmer a couple months in advance and order my turkey from them.

At this point in time, what you will most likely hear this Saturday is “would you like some more cranberry sauce with your chicken?”…

[Update: I was finally able to get the turkey delivered on the morning of the meal… A massive 9lb bird! ;-) But we did very much enjoy eating it and did not have to worry about leftovers…]

On a related note, I was able to find ingredients that I thought I would have more troubles finding…
In regular supermarkets, I found:

  1. Fresh Cranberries – US origin (called “les airelles (f)” in France although they are their Northern European cousins)
  2. Sweet Potatoes – “les patates douces”
  3. Polenta – To substitute for corn meal
  4. Buttermilk – “le lait ribot” (which is a very common thing here in Bretagne since it’s one of the local staples)
  5. Maple Syrup – “le sirop d’érable”

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

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