Sunday, December 7, 2008


One of the American assistants, Keri, graciously volunteered to have a Thanksgiving gathering at her apartment (which she shares with an Australian and a Brit), so on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving I got up early to make squash with orange sauce (no Thanksgiving vacation here, remember – I had 5 hours of class on Thanksgiving Day). I’d bought something vaguely resembling a pumpkin at the market the previous week, and it looked sufficiently orange and squash-like, so I thought it would probably work. I had to buy a vegetable peeler and a measuring cup (which of course only had liters on it, so some quick work with the converter on my cell phone was needed) and my professeur référent, who is amazingly nice, offered to lend me a casserole dish. Thus armed, I began the process of peeling, cubing and cooking the squash.
You will perhaps notice the three different stages that the squash is at: this was because my only saucepans are the ones you see in the picture, i.e. tiny.
So I had two pots going at once and still had to do it in three rounds. Luckily, I had music and Nutella for fortification:
My ill-equipped kitchen does not, of course, have a masher, so I used a fork.
So it wasn’t the smoothest squash with orange sauce in the world, but hey, it worked. After cooking and mashing for a while, I had enough squash and it was time to make the sauce. I’d bought potato starch instead of corn starch because the box was smaller, and come on, how many times am I going to use any kind of starch between now and April? Thanks to a conversation with my wise and wonderful grandmother, however, I knew that potato starch would work. I also only had granulated brown sugar, not having been able to find anything else, but I figured it would all melt and make no difference whatsoever. Finally, I didn’t have a juicer, so I had to juice the oranges with a fork. Despite all the modifications, though, the sauce eventually thickened and I poured it triumphantly over the squash. Time to stick it in the oven for a bit. 350ºF, my mother said. Okay, that’s 175ºC. Now, to set the oven temperature…
Do you see any temperatures on those dials? I didn’t either. So I set it at about 4, which is right in the middle, and prayed. Here it is, in all its warm, fragrant, orange-y glory:
Then there was the problem of transporting it to the party, which was about 10 métro stops away. I covered it with plastic wrap, wrapped it in towels, and gently placed it in the bottom of a shopping bag, haunted by visions of the bag giving way and splattering squash, orange sauce, and broken crockery all over the street. It made it successfully to the party, though, and took its place among the other delicious things that other assistants brought:
Here are the turkeys (yes, there were two – there were more than 30 people at the party):
Dindes, they’re called in French. And they say “Glou glou glou” instead of “Gobble gobble gobble”. Here’s my overly-filled plate:
See the very-obviously-straight-out-of-a-can cranberry sauce? That doesn’t exist in France – cranberries barely do, and certainly not cranberries in the highly processed and indescribably delicious form of canned cranberry sauce. So one of the assistants had her mother mail her a can of cranberry sauce, which totally made my entire Thanksgiving. I went back for seconds on cranberry sauce and nothing else, actually.

Finally, a picture that doesn’t begin to capture how full the apartment was:
I can tell you that in that picture, there is a Brit, an Australian, and a German, and just out of frame there are more Germans, more Brits, some Mexicans, a Columbian, and some French people just for fun. Conversations were held in English, French, German, and Spanish, and all in all it was an amazing party. I was impressed with the cooking that people had done (most people just brought bread or wine or cheese, but there were also mashed potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, green beans with ginger, cranberry sauce, pumpkin cheesecake, pecan pie, and a few salads) and with the multiculturalism of it all. The non-Americans were all curious about Thanksgiving, so it was fun to talk about that. Also, at any given moment at least three languages were being spoken, so language-dork Lisa was happy. Afterwards, I went home with leftover squash, so I could also continue the Thanksgiving leftover tradition by eating that for a few days afterwards. No hot turkey sandwiches, though, which I miss. Still, it felt enough like Thanksgiving that I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. Yay expats!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the oven dials!! I actually had to stop myself from laughing in the library (reading your blog was a much-needed study-break). Keep it up! This poor vet student needs to live vicariously through somebody. :)