It all started in the morning. As any person knows, getting up bright and early to do your food shopping is completely necessary when cooking a large meal. Now if you’re a really responsible adult, you spend the night before going over your perfectly planned list of ingredients and your carefully delineated timetable (which for the record, did in fact exist). If you’re smart, you definitely do not have an extended cocktail hour the night before. You get a good night’s rest and hydrate up. You certainly do not end the night sipping tequila out of a plastic cup. (Life lesson – sipping tequila at the end of the night, hell, at any part of the night, is probably a bad idea). But I don’t ever recall saying that I was a responsible adult or a smart person. And anyways, sometimes someone has to do something kind of dumb in order for a miracle to occur… right?
Hence, Miracle Number One: no hangover. At least not for the main chef. Which is great, because her trusted sidekick totally had a hangover (That would be me. Oops.)
But seriously, some things really are a miracle. I mean the Saturday market in France is kind of a miracle in and of itself. By Parisian standards it’s nothing special, but by any other standard it’s pretty darn great. I’ve probably already waxed poetic about the charming French people running the stalls, the plethora of amazing food – meats, cheeses fruits vegetables, nuts etc. – all on display down a section of a random city street. And really, I could probably talk about it forever (as I’m sure some people have), but I have to tell you about the next miracle, dang it!
Miracle Number Two: we were perusing said market, gathering up our wares when, as we walked past the dried fruit, we looked down in amazement at – no, it couldn’t possibly be true! – pecans.
Pecans, guys! These little babies are so rarely found, that neither my students, nor their teachers could identify a picture of a pecan pie. But there, right in that little market, nestled between the dried apricots and the hummus, were pecans.
And we bought them. Oh yes we did. We had to tell the man to keep adding more and more to the bag. We needed an American sized bag of pecans and we got it. Amazing.
Finally, the last miracle (you do know that it takes three miracles to become a Saint, right?)
After dropping off our first round of market loot, we headed to the Monoprix for our other, more obscure Thanksgiving necessities. We hustled into the grocery store section of France’s Target equivalent (but with a more extensive supermarket) and Em, as only she can do, began chucking food into the tiny rolling cart. Let me tell you, where I wander aimlessly through a store, emiglia practically sprints. It’s amazing to see her in action, really, ducking past all of the Parisian grandmas, swerving through the cheese aisle like a pro and dodging listless souls mulling over their jambon. I just follow along and do my assigned Thanksgiving task of Keeping the Chef Sane. And also occasionally giving culinary advice when asked for.
Once the cheese, prosciutto and puffed pastry is safely in cart, we head to the exotic food aisle – clearly demarcated with giant palm leaves - where the sweet potatoes are stored along with lychees and various random Asian fruits. Because sweet potatoes are very exotic. And as we’re hustling through the produce, commiserating on the overpriced jar of cranberry sauce we’ve been forced into buying, Miracle Three happens in a flash.
I almost didn’t see them. But not Em, she nearly made an audible grasp.
Yes, friends. Right there, in the middle of Monoprix, in a little plastic container, were cranberries. I don’t think I have to tell you that the French don’t see many cranberries. And to find them on Thanksgiving morning (which happens to be Saturday if you’re us and have jobs to attend to on Thursday), well that’s pretty darn thrilling. And totally miracle-worthy.
So there you have it. The Thanksgiving Miracles. And can I tell you that maybe, just maybe, there’s one more? (Because, let’s face it, who wants to be a Saint would you could be a rock star). So, The Surprise Fourth Miracle. The Miracle among miracles, if you will.
A dinner without a hitch. A group of friends (both old and new) enjoying each others’ company. Americans, some even strangers at the start of the night, sharing their gratitude over food. A night to be truly thankful for.
As I said, the majority of the food was made by Em, though some people brought a few sides and desserts. I made brownies and mashed up the sweet potatoes. Mostly I just documented when the light was good and it suited me.