Blogs from Abroad: Kayla Alexander “French Cuisine Thanksgiving”

November 28, 2016


Many of you celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend with your loved ones. You may have taken the time to thank God for his many blessings throughout the year, whether it be health, finances, opportunities, love, family and so on. You probably gathered with your relatives and loved ones as you dined over “greens, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, you name it!” As well as turkey with cranberry sauce, ham, stuffing, and sweet potato pie just to name a few.

Since I am Canadian, my family members and I celebrated Thanksgiving well over a month ago back in October. Unfortunately, I spent it away from my family as I was in France playing, but I was lucky enough to have awesome teammates and people here who celebrated with me in France. Back home when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we eat West Indian/Jamaican food as that is where both sides of my family are from. So the menu usually consists of rice and peas, curry goat, curry chicken, oxtail, pigtail, honey garlic ribs, potato salad, mac and cheese, pasta salad and more. Not exactly traditional Thanksgiving foods to most homes, but to me and my family this is the food we love and go crazy for! It’s the food I grew up eating and associate home, family, and holidays with.

Since I am in France and Thanksgiving just passed, the staff in San Antonio thought it would be fun to come up with a French cuisine style Thanksgiving. So I asked my friend, Laure, along with the coaching staff and many of my teammates (thank you all so much for your help and input) who are all French and currently living here in Bourges with me to share what they consider true traditional French cuisine. With their help I was able to put together a French-style Thanksgiving meal! I have the name of the food, followed by its city or region of origin, and then a brief description of what it is.

French Cuisine Thanksgiving Menu:

Appetizer/Starter
Croque Monsieur 
PARIS: Very similar to a grilled cheese sandwich. This is a boiled ham and cheese sandwich that you can either bake or fry. If you’re wondering what the female version of this dish is, simply add a fried egg on top of the sandwich and go from Croque Monsieur to Croque Madame!

Escargot: Snails! Most people season it with garlic seasoning and then cook it in the oven in its shell. When cooked, use a tooth pick to take it out of its shell, pop it in your mouth and enjoy! I haven’t been brave enough to try escargot just yet, maybe I will before the end of the season.

Quiche Loraine: Very similar to quiche! This is a tarte with creme, that you bake in the oven.  Ingredients can vary from cheeses, meats, seafood or vegetables and it can be served hot or cold.

 

Main Course
Gratin Dauphinois GRENOBLE: This is another traditional French dish that consists of potatoes and fresh creme. Start by slicing potatoes and placing them layer by layer into a baking dish, with layers of ham in-between potato layers. Then, cover it in creme and pop it in the oven. If you’re not a big ham fan like me, you can substitute salmon for ham instead!

Boeuf Bourguignon DIJON: This is a shared meal that I would recommend eating with your main entrees. You cut rumsteak into small pieces (uncooked). Then in a large pot, prepare oil with garlic and aromatic herbs on high heat, and place at the center of the table. Everyone then takes their own piece of meat and places it in the oil to cook. When it’s cooked to your personal preference, take it out and enjoy! You can eat by itself or with vegetables and/or potatoes. People often have a variety of different dips that they use, such as mustard, mayo, béarnaise, etc.

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Raclette, melted cheese in the middle, with sliced ham and bread in the background

Raclette VALD’ISERE: This is a simple dish that could also be a nice appetizer before the main meal. It consists of potatoes (roasted or boiled) with melted cheese aka fondue. You can buy ham, Spanish ham, and/or sausages and cut them into pieces. You can also boil some potatoes, then put a large piece of cheese in the middle that is being melted. Everyone then takes what they want (ham, sausage, potatoes) and dips it into the melted cheese!

Fondue Savoyarde CHAMBERY: Yet another type of fondue that you dip bread into. The main ingredients typically include cheese, seasonings, garlic and white wine.

Andouillette VIRE: You can buy this in the form of a sausage and usually consists of intestines, pork, chitterlings, pepper, onion, wine and seasonings. Apparently it tastes as bad as it sounds because none of my teammates enjoyed it, which means I probably won’t be trying this. Some do love this meal though!

Tete de Veau LYON: This is beef, veal, or calf brains. Some love it, others not so much. It is usually served with a vinaigrette.

Quenelle LYON: This dish contains creamed fish or meat with breadcrumbs that are shaped like an egg, then cooked.

Choucroute STRASBOURG: This is a dish made with a lot of cabbage, pieces of pork, butter, garlic, aromatic herbs, onions, potatoes, white wine and sausage. You cook everything minus the potatoes in a large pot for about an hour, then add the potatoes and sausages and when they’re cooked your meal is served! My teammates recommend eating it with white wine.

Magret de Canard TOULOUSE: This dish is made of duck breast meat and is cooked like a steak. After it’s been seared and cooked for a little bit in the oven, it’s ready to be served medium rare. It tends to have a beefier taste. I have tried duck on a few occasions and really enjoyed it.

Moule Frites LILLE: Mussels! Cook the mussels in white wine with onions and some lemon. Pair it with fries and enjoy!

Bouillabaisse MARSEILLE: This is a spicy, tasty and rich soup/stew that is made with various kinds of fish!

Cassoulet CASTEL NAUDARY: This is a traditional French stew made with pork, meat and white beans that have been slow cooked in a cassole, a round deep pot with slanting sides.

Cuisse de Grenouille (Everywhere): Frog legs! They are usually prepared with butter, garlic and parsley sauce. This is a dish I would be willing to try, at least once.

Poule au Pot PAU: This translates to chicken in a pot. It usually consists of a full chicken that has been cooked down in a broth with vegetables, creating a yummy soup!

Blanquette de Veau LYON: Veal stew.

Poulet Basquaise PAYS BASQUE: This is a chicken dish, the “basquaise” usually refers to a sauce made from tomatoes, capsicum and onions.

 

Sides
Aligot DU ROUERGUE: Pretty much mashed potatoes with a lot of cheese blended in. The cheese is usually from the region of Auvergne.

 

Desserts
Millefeuille: This is a very popular French pastry that consists of vanilla slices and custard.

Fraisier: Strawberry cake! Fraiser comes from the word “fraise” which means strawberry in French. This is your classic French cake consisting of sponge cake, strawberries, syrup and creme.

Foret Noire: This translates to “Black Forest” cake in English. Now who doesn’t love a chocolate cake? This cake is usually topped with sour cherries and creme.

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Macaroons, my favorite!

Macarons: This is a dessert dish that I personally added because it is a desert that I buy at most cafes, or chocolate shops here in France. I absolutely love them; they come in a variety of flavors. My favorite flavors are salted caramel, chocolate, and vanilla. They are essentially a cookie made with egg whites, sugar, almond powder, icing and your choice of filling. So unhealthy, but absolutely scrumptious!

Tarte Tatin: Many of you may be familiar with upside down cake. Tarte Tatin is an upside down tarte! It’s a pastry baked on top of your choice of caramelized fruit that is served fruit side up once cooked.

Les Crepes BRETONEN: A dessert that many of us are probably familiar with. Crepes are very thin pancakes that can be eaten a variety of ways, with an assortment of fruits, whipped creme and/or Nutella.

Religieuse: This is another popular French pastry consisting of two round chop pastry cases, topped on top of each other. Flavors include coffee or chocolate.

Tarte Citron: A meringue pie or a lemon tarte.

Les Beignes: Donuts!

There were so many other dishes and plates my teammates and friends wanted to share and add to the list, but it was getting too long. I hope you enjoyed reading!

-K.

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