07 November 2011

Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving

This is for all the French people out there.  If you are American, feel free to contribute your survival tips for Thanksgiving in the comments section.

You've probably got a big sourire on your face.  For years, you've been hearing about this huge American festival called Thanksgiving, but you're not really sure what it entails.  Now, you find yourself invited to a Thanksgiving dinner by your American friends and you're kinda freakin' out.  What should you expect?  How should you behave?  Is it really that much to eat?

Don't worry.  EC's got you covered.  Here are my survival tips.

9 kilos of bird for 22 people...you do the math.

Thanksgiving Survival Tip #1:  Learn Your Mythology

Thanksgiving is an annual feast that pays hommage to the Indians extending a neighborly hand to the Pilgrims (located in Plymouth, Massachusetts) and helping them get through the rough times in the New World.  They helped the white man plant crops and taught them how to fish.  To celebrate this survival and collaboration, they had a dinner party.  We tend to ignore that later on the Americans showed their gratitude by moving Indians off their land and committed various other atrocities, so keep those thoughts to yourself.  It ruins the mood.  No one likes to talk genocide over their turkey.  Just enjoy the cheeriness of the holiday and meal.

History, schmistory...Indians <3 Pilgrims.

Thanksgiving Survival Tip #2:  Save Room in your Belly

Here's the deal.  Many American cooking guides tell us to prepare about 1 pound (around 1/2 kilo) of turkey per guest.  Tack on mashed potatoes, assorted breads, green bean casserole, stuffing, a sweet potato dish of some kind, maybe some soups, etc. and you're looking at a massive meal.  Don't forget pumpkin and/or pecan pie for dessert.  Go big or go home folks.  If you are expecting an evening Thanksgiving meal, have a good breakfast and consider skipping lunch.  If you eat lunch, you may regret it later on when your stomach is about to explode.  If you are invited to a Thanksgiving lunch, then have a light breakfast.  Thanksgiving takes many days of preparation, and nothing pisses the chef off more than a person who picks at their food because they aren't hungry.

Thanksgiving Survival Tip #3:  Forego the Skinny Jeans.  Wear Stretchy Pants.

I know, I know.  It's Paris.  We gotta be fashionable.  Except it is probably in your best interest NOT to wear tight pants.  You're gonna have a small food baby by the end of the meal.  Meaning you're gonna look like a sausage stuffed into its casing.  Adopt the American attitude of comfort and wear some jeggings.  Or other pants with some extra room.  Or a dress (for the ladies).  You can thank me later.

Take a tip from Joey: wear your Thanksgiving pants.

Thanksgiving Survival Tip #4:  Learn the rules of football américain

In many American households, you do two things if you aren't cooking the Thanksgiving meal.  You watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in the morning, and you watch football in the evening.  You may not even give a crap who is playing, but this is a mute point.  You just do it.  Either learn the rules beforehand or try to ask questions during the game.  Please note however that many of the male species of Americans become momentarily deaf during a football game and may not hear you.  Prior studying is strongly recommended.

Thanksgiving Survival Tip #5:  Go to bed early on Thanksgiving (applies to French citizens living in the USA).

Perhaps more anticipated than the Thanksgiving feast itself, Black Friday is a major event in the life of the average American.  Black Friday is the start of massive sales right before Christmas, and marks the start of the holiday shopping season in the US.  Stores beef up their sales staff and their advertising budgets.  Every year, they open their doors earlier and earlier.  In fact, many stores now open at 12 AM on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  You read correctly...12 AM.  That right there is why Black Friday will never happen in France.  What can be a better cultural experience than fighting overly caffeinated crowds looking for amazing deals on stuff that they don't *really* need?  You really should participate in Black Friday if you are living in the States.  It gives you something to talk about with the kids back home.  For an enhanced experience, research fliers from the newspaper or on the stores' websites and figure out a plan of attack.

Black Friday at its finest.  Photo:  AP

So let's sum it up:  don't talk about true history, save lots of room in your belly, wear Thanksgiving pants, learn about football, and get plenty of sleep on Thanksgiving Thursday to shop on Black Friday.  If you follow these tips, you will have an unforgettable and enjoyable Thanksgiving.  Bonne fête!

Thinking about preparing your own Thanksgiving feast in Paris?  Check out my tips from last year here.


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