Midweek Distractions 11/22/23: Thanksgiving Dinner in the Eiffel Tower

Group of friends or family members holding hands at festive turkey dinner table together. Thanksgiving celebration traditional dinner concept
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The only Thanksgiving I ever spent in France was ten years ago, during a freshman year study abroad program through NYU. I’d barely thought about the holiday until we were informed that the university would be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for us, since we were probably all very homesick and needed a pick-me-up. I didn’t realize at the time that the humble Thanksgiving dinner they were arranging for us was going to be in the Eiffel Tower. Yes, 18-year-old me, fresh out of the land of Panera Bread and 24-hour diners, was going to be enjoying a several-course meal at the Jules Verne, one of the two restaurants in the Eiffel Tower.

I can’t imagine how much money must have been thrown at this event, but the entire restaurant was rented out just for us, and they had convinced the chef to serve a French take on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We were each served a plate with potato purée topped with a dollop of mashed squash, a small pile of cranberry sauce with a garnish of mâche, and a turkey cutlet topped with artfully drawn-on lines of gravy and some kind of foam that had us absolutely baffled. It looked like a cloud of dish soap, and we were all afraid to eat it.

It was a surreal experience, eating a not-so-traditional Turkey Day dinner a few feet away from the legs of the Eiffel Tower, which sparkled on the hour just on the other side of the restaurant window. But it’s a memory I look back on fondly, like a strange dream that dissolves in the retelling.

This year, I’ll be enjoying a very traditional Thanksgiving with my family in Philly, with American-sized portions and several kinds of pie. (I’ll be making this Cranberry-Lime pie, which has gotten me rave reviews from friends in the past. Let’s see if my foodie family is as impressed.)

We’ve got some recommendations for wines to get you through the holiday, as well as some French tart recipes that are a little more out-of-the-box than your Nana’s pecan pie (don’t be afraid to use store-bought crust).

But as the Christmas season always seems to get ahead of us, we also have recommendations for French Advent calendars to make your December a little more fun. And our Frenchly 2023 holiday gift guide is out, with suggestions for what to buy all the Francophiles in your life.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I’ll talk to you next week.

Catherine Rickman
Managing Editor, frenchly.us

Things I found on the Internet…

Dressing up as French expressions. The French always make do when it comes to food. And a recipe for œufs cocottes au chou fleur.

What to watch (or not) this week…

It’s been a bad month for American retellings of French stories. Last week, we got Caitlin’s review of the disappointing Netflix adaptation of All the Light We Cannot See. And today, Ridley Scott’s controversial Napoleon film hits theaters. French critics have panned the film, leading to a vitriolic back-and-forth between the director and the French media.

Stay in touch! I’d love to hear from you: [email protected].

Nouvelles 🖋️








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