Celebrating Thanksgiving in Biarritz

It’s always the bigger American holidays that make us feel a little bit homesick, especially one like Thanksgiving, which we would normally spend around a huge table eating too much food with our whole family. Even though Brent had to work on Thanksgiving (we’re still getting used to that!) we knew we didn’t want to let the holiday pass without celebrating, even in a small way, so we decided to host a small dinner here at our apartment in Biarritz and invited our friends Daniele and Michael over. Our apartment is tiny and we only have a table that seats two people, so we don’t often host dinners because seating is so scarce. I improvised by bringing in our small bistro table from our balcony, making seating for four.

You don’t see many pumpkins here, at least not like back home where there is a pumpkin patch on every corner, but I did find some beautiful minty-green and pale yellow organic pumpkins that I bought from a farmer at the local market, Les Halles. They were most likely meant for cooking with, but I used them as table decor. I also gathered some colorful fall leaves from outside – the streets were covered with leaves this time of year, to make the festive setting complete. And even though there were only four of us, I kept with the Kudela family tradition of making name tag place cards for everyone, which always make it feel more like a holiday dinner to me.

My Dad and sister had brought me a few cans of Libby’s Pumpkin from home when they came to visit back in September. I used a few of the cans to make my favorite pumpkin muffins back in October, and saved the last can for a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I had a bit of trouble with my crust (struggling to figure out my oven here), but overall it looked beautiful and tasted like home. That pie was probably my favorite part of the whole meal, and we ate the leftovers with our coffee the next morning for breakfast – the BEST!

I’m not abitious enough to cook a turkey (although they do sell them here – with the head and tail feathers still attached!) , so for the main dish I cooked a French dish, Coq Au Vin (chicken is close enough, right?) with garlic mashed potatoes. Daniele brought creamed corn, cornbread (with a box of mix she had been saving from Trader Joe’s!), and the most delicious artichoke, mushroom stuffing, and gravy. Everything was so good and when it came together it really did taste like Thanksgiving back home. We all missed celebrating with our family of course, but we were very thankful to have new friends to celebrate with!