Being permanently moored for the winter, with more time to do as we please, we decided Thanksgiving would be the perfect opportunity to renew a favorite hobby, cooking.
The week before Thanksgiving, with our American friends from the port back home for the holidays, we invited our English neighbors for dinner. We told them to come hungry, so that we could feed them tons of food in the true tradition of Thanksgiving.
We hoped to serve turkey, of course. We looked high and low, in town and the small villages nearby, but we never found any whole turkeys. Toby helped us shop, and he found a cow at the butcher shop in town, but he couldn't find any turkeys either. Maybe we could have ordered one, but it was just a little beyond our current French, and we feared that we might end up with a live turkey. Checking the local market places for other traditional items, we could not find any yams or cranberries. What to do? We would need to be creative.
We worked out a menu and went to the marketplace with a shopping list complete with notes on changing ounces to grams and pounds to kilos. We had a grand time walking around town, trying to find everything we needed for our recipes. The butcher does carry boned turkey breast, and he cut them in slices for us for our main dish. We found large bowls of fresh light and heavy cream sold by the gram at our favorite cheese store. We could see and taste what we were buying, which is better than finding the correct containers by their foreign names in the grocery store. At the vegetable stand, we carefully selected each item. We would have an endive salad with Roquefort and mashed potatoes along with our turkey and broccoli casserole.
We visited a local winemaker to select our dinner wines, but finding sherry for our turkey casserole recipe was more difficult. After being sent from shop to shop, we finally found some Spanish sherry in a wine shop on a side street; it was expensive, but we needed it for our recipe, so we bought it. Then we decided to buy a nice bottle of port for an after-dinner drink.
Thanksgiving morning, we went out early looking for our dessert. All of the stores were open on Thanksgiving Day, which reminded us that we were far from home. We looked in a couple of pastry shops and finally decided on a beautifully decorated cake. Then we went to our favorite boulangerie for fresh bread before heading back home to begin chopping, peeling, and cooking.
That afternoon while working together preparing our non-traditional Thanksgiving meal, listening to BB King's "Riding with the King," we realized how much we missed playing in the kitchen. It has been a long time since we have tried out new recipes because most of this year, we have been way too busy to cook just for fun.
Our friends arrived with a freshly baked mince pie. We started the evening with champagne and appetizers. And in a fine Thanksgiving tradition, we kept bringing dishes out of the kitchen all evening. It was raining and cold outside, but we were cozy in our kitchen, enjoying our tasty, if non-traditional, dinner.
We missed our family at the table, but it was a pleasant day, and we enjoyed the whole process of shopping, cooking, and sharing our meal with friends.
We are thankful for all of our blessings.