Why the French don’t celebrate Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010 in France

For starters, the food isn’t anything worth being thankful for. Cranberry sauce out of can–either whole or jellied–just wouldn’t cut it next to fresh confiture. Oven-warmed rolls don’t stand a chance against a baguette, fresh from the boulangère. And why, mon Dieu, would you ruin good sweet potatoes with a load of brown sugar and marshmellows?

Homemade cranberry sauce!

And the concept of just one course, a giant smorgasboard of flavors is absolutely ridiculous. As proven by the recent UNESCO World Heritage honors, there’s a certain way to eat: an entree, a main course, a cheese course and a dessert. You just don’t mess with what works.

Then there’s the issue of moderation. Stuffing yourself until you can’t do anything but doze off on the couch while watching that awful (-ly confusing) American football doesn’t fit into the why-French-women-don’t-get-fat guidelines.

In addition, the lack of a wine list, a centerpiece that only consists of the main dishes, fancy decoration that’s limited to Grandma’s China. Certainly more rustic than chic.

Ile Flottante

Sure, Thanksgiving is as American (and non-French) as you can get. Even though I’d kill for a beef tartare and a ile flottante , I’m pretty darn happy to replace that with a turkey leg and a slice of my mom’s apple pie. And I’m incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to spend the majority of 2010 in France, eating UNESCO-worthy gastronomy and soaking up their strange combination of national cynicism and pride. But I’ll take celebrating this holiday on home soil.

Happy Thanksgiving! Can you think of other cultures where the American Thanksgiving wouldn’t thrive?

  • Awwww I love the way you ended this post! Traditions are traditions no matter if they make sense or not sometimes haha.

  • That Ile Flotante looks delicious. I serve a two-potato gratin to my guests and when asked about other traditional Thanksgiving dishes, tried to explain the sweet potatoes-marshmallow concept. It didn’t go down very well… I think i definitely made the right choice sticking with a gratin 😉

  • Michelle

    I think this goes without saying in any society with some other country’s holidays- they don’t mean anything to anyone outside of that country, really… do we celebrate Bastille Day? Or Bowling Day? No…

  • Anonymous

    That’s a great point–traditions definitely don’t have to make sense!

  • Anonymous

    The French–and the British–were shocked when I tried to describe traditional Thanksgiving food. My family just does candied yams–no marshmellows–but they’re still super sweet! I think you took the right route serving a two-potato gratin :)

  • Anonymous

    True! But I think that many traditions–fireworks, barbecues, etc.–are very similar throughout the world :)

  • I’ve been sharing as much as I can about Thanksgiving with my French students. Instead of just words, I had pictures of delicious Thanksgiving dishes and at the end most students were complaining about their growling stomachs. I forgot to add a slide for the concept of Thanksgiving leftovers, however, as most seemed to be thinking we finished each dish off completely. I could just see my previous french host mom chanting “servez-vous, servez-vous!” never taking no for an answer as she scraped every dish clean. If this were the case, most hospitals would be full from people having eaten too much…. not a good thing!

  • Happy [albeit belated] Thanksgiving and Welcome Home!

  • Anonymous

    So true! I actually think I like the leftover turkey sandwich with heaps of cranberry sauce and stuffing more than the actual meal itself. (So much that turkey and cranberry sandwiches are my staple at Whole Foods!)

  • Kayla jones

    I feel sorry French people that don’t do thanksgiving.

  • Kayla jones

    That is the same as I do

  • arkarian

    you’re describing gross thanksgiving food, though. plenty of people make homemade cranberry sauce and drink wine with thanksgiving dinner …

Previous post:

Next post: