Weekend Reads

Thanksgiving is (kinda) just around the corner and you can check out this round-up of Thanksgiving Recipes here on the blog. Rather than getting all stressed out, though, maybe think of making less…and having more fun. As a French friend once told me, “We don’t go out to eat for the food. We go out to be with our friends.” Another friend in Paris told me that when she entertains, she serves only three things, which may not pan out for T-day spreads; I can skip the marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes…but not the turkey, stuffing, purée (mashed potatoes), and cranberry sauce.

Every November I get asked by a few people, “What do the French do for Thanksgiving?” Since it’s an American holiday, I don’t think they want to be in the mishigas of cultural appropriation, sp they’re fine to let us have it, and don’t do anything to celebrate. That said, some butchers in Paris stock whole turkeys (pro-tip: Stay away from butchers in upscale neighborhoods. The prices some of them sell them for are insane), and go to a regular butcher shop elsewhere. Even better, if you order in advance, some butchers may be willing to put the turkey on the same rôtisserie they use for roast chickens, to cook for you, which is a godsend if you have a petit apartment oven.

There are always articles with lots of advice on how to make the best turkey; from dangerous deep frying to the recently-rescinded brining. (Who has room in their refrigerator to store a turkey packed in brine?) If you want to simplify everything, you can do the time-honored method, sanctioned by San Francisco cooking school teacher Mary Risley, who says: Just Put the F&%king Turkey in the Oven. (Warning: Salty language.)

Before the onslaught of articles about how to prepare, bake, cook, brine, fry, and freeze for your feast burst forth (and the sales, which have now become pre-sales for Black Friday, or Vendredi Noir, begin) here are some reads I found interesting:

Weekend reads and links

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33 comments

  • Helen
    November 9, 2019 10:15pm

    “Every November I get asked by a few people, “What do the French do for Thanksgiving?”
    This I cannot believe.That anyone would be so out of touch with cultural differences that they would ask the question. Hard to imagine. Reply

    • Jenny
      November 9, 2019 10:31pm

      Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reply

    • November 9, 2019 11:51pm
      David Lebovitz

      I think a lot of people don’t quite know what holidays mean, even us who should! When some of us cooked Thanksgiving dinner in France, French guests (who know their history really, really well…) would ask us to explain the holiday and most of us turned to Wikipedia. (Ditto with Halloween.) Reply

    • Jacqueline
      November 10, 2019 2:38am

      Exactly. Reply

    • Julie
      November 11, 2019 11:05am

      Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Australia, where I live, nor in Germany which I used to live. I do not understand what you can’t believe! Reply

  • Charlene V.
    November 9, 2019 10:57pm

    I guess we were really lucky in our visit to The Louvre in May 2006. We got to the Mona Lisa room about 10 minutes before closing time and there were just 3 of us plus a security guard in the entire room! Reply

    • Monica
      November 11, 2019 1:51am

      Oh, your reading list is simply amazing!! I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Pasta grannies on your list. They are truly amazing and I am addicted to their channel. I would say they are one of a kind. Happy Thanksgiving!! Reply

  • Lora
    November 9, 2019 11:11pm

    I love that you referenced an article about my hometown spice company. Reply

  • Lainie
    November 9, 2019 11:25pm

    Penzeys is my new hero. Gives me hope. Thanks for all the great reading suggestions. Reply

  • Susa
    November 9, 2019 11:59pm

    David, as a knitter, crocheter, beaded jewelry maker and food lover, the bagel bar and moldy fruit links made my day! Thank you for sharing! Reply

    • November 10, 2019 2:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      As someone who’s the son of a knitter, spinner, crocheter, and dyer – you’re welcome! Reply

  • Emilie Quast
    November 10, 2019 3:34am

    For what it’s worth, one of the nicest turkeys I’ve ever bought came from a neighborhood butcher when my daughter was attending a year abroad in Montpellier. Young, well-fed and well-finished, tender, and beautifully fresh. Dang! I never went looking for one in Paris. Reply

    • November 10, 2019 5:57pm
      David Lebovitz

      I agree. In France, if you buy a whole turkey, usually it a fermier (free-range) and not as plump as its Americans counterparts, but have the taste of a true turkey. A few years back I did Thanksgiving dinner with some friends how live in Provence. We pre-ordered a whole turkey and it seemed heavy when we brought it home.

      I opened it up and found out that they have stuffed it for us with some sort of meat mixture. As a fan of breadcrumb stuffing, I was going to take it out and stuff it with a bread stuffing, but it was so beautifully trussed, I didn’t want to undo it. So we roasted it off and it was amazing, stuffing and all. Reply

  • Margaret
    November 10, 2019 6:53am

    Concerning your link to Thanksgiving recipes, I took made your cheeseball recipe and took to a friends party at her request and it was a huge hit. Everyone clustered around it and that’s all they could talk about. Every time I make one of your recipes, that tends to happen :) Reply

    • Nancy Slattery
      November 10, 2019 10:00am

      Sounds like something I’d like to try for this holiday season, could you repeat the cheeseball recipe? Reply

      • Nancy Slattery
        November 10, 2019 10:07am

        found it! Reply

  • Sabina NMI Baldwin
    November 10, 2019 1:35pm

    I find Bill Penzey’s decision to use his successful spice business as a political platform extremely distasteful. I had been a decades-long customer of Penzey’s Spices but ceased to do business with him. It has been a serendipitous choice! I’ve found other merchants who provide excellent quality spices at good prices-without the rancor!
    Thanks for another fantastic newsletter, David. BTW, I’m still making ice cream from The Perfect Scoop, and plan on making the Cinnamon Ice Cream with salted caramel swirl for a Thanksgiving companion to pumpkin pie. Reply

    • Bricktop
      November 10, 2019 4:26pm

      I’m not a fan of “Cancel Culture”, but there’s expressing a political viewpoint which I 100% support Bill’s right to do, and insulting some of your customers. Penzey’s loss is Spice House’s gain. Reply

      • happygirlsabina@gmail.com
        November 10, 2019 5:46pm

        Not so much “insulting,” as alienating.
        I absolutely agree that he has every right to express his opinion, as do any of us. I think he’s over the top, but if he’s willing to risk alienating a portion of his customer base, it’s perfectly fine with me. Reply

    • Yael
      November 11, 2019 7:52pm

      Sabina, I agree that turning any business into a political platform is distasteful, but you are probably playing right into his hand. Penzey probably counts on political supporters turning into customers (even though some loyal customers like you will be turned away). Personally, I don’t care if my cinnamon purveyor is a “woke” nitwit or a rabid right winger. I’d rather not know but hope that by making decisions based on product quality only, I’ll help to end the madness. :-) Reply

  • orcagna
    November 10, 2019 7:12pm

    In case you want to brine your turkey anyway, have you thought of using your balcony or outside windowsills as fridge extensions? Just don’t make the same mistake I did: When I put a quiche out on the windowsill to cool on a winter night, I didn’t think about the paper thin sheet of ice coating it and watched helplessly as my quiche slid slowly along the slightly tilted windowsill and crashed to the ground five floors below, narrowly missing our car… Reply

    • November 10, 2019 9:26pm
      David Lebovitz

      When I lived in a rooftop apartment, I had the most beautiful refrigerator (and in the winter, freezer) in the world since it overlooked Paris. I don’t have that anymore and ever since a friend staying in my apt texted me that a man was urinating in my planters (where I had herbs growing…at the time), I decided to stop… Reply

  • November 10, 2019 8:07pm

    Is the answer : the French watch Americans go crazy over Black Friday? Reply

    • November 10, 2019 9:10pm
      David Lebovitz

      “Vendredi noir” (Black Friday) has been creeping into France, but the day after Thanksgiving (which is a holiday in a States) doesn’t have the same pizzazz as it does in America. So the day sort of comes out of nowhere. There have been a few instances of mobs and brawls, like the now-infamous Nutella sale. But generally, the promotions and sales aren’t as deep so people are more restrained. Reply

  • Monica Davis
    November 11, 2019 2:49am

    Since moving to Shanghai, I have come to terms that not everyone celebrate the same holidays. We get holidays for a week during Lunar festival (Jan-Feb), but to work as usual for Christmas!! And the big sale is on 11.11(today) instead of Black Friday. Reply

    • BelleD
      November 11, 2019 6:34pm

      Gotta love Singles Day :) Reply

  • Paul
    November 11, 2019 5:57am

    Here is a chuckle for all of us on Thanksgiving by the late great Art Buchwald: Le Grande Thanksgiving
    Reply

  • November 11, 2019 3:08pm

    My first apartment in SF was across the street from Tante Marie’s. I love Mary and her Food Runners organization and Peggy who was my neighbor and Mary’s right hand person. As a new cook, I used to go over and peruse the job board on the wall frequently. Such a great place that gave rise to lots of fantastic cooks. Reply

  • mahri
    November 11, 2019 9:48pm

    Thanksgiving is the American version of a harvest festival. The French (or any other national) should fill in the blanks for their own harvest of riches. Reply

    • November 11, 2019 10:00pm
      David Lebovitz

      I think because “Bastille Day” is celebrated in some parts of the U.S. (for the parties…and the food) people assume that the French might do something for Thanksgiving too (?) But maybe not. Reply

  • KittyWrangler
    November 12, 2019 1:28pm

    I really love these reading lists you put together, they always introduce me to some great blog or person I’d never have encountered on my own.

    I’ve moved from the US to Germany, and Germans often insist they have exactly the same thing as Thanksgiving, but it’s really some religious day of quiet prayer that isn’t remotely the same. I’m going to start calling T-day an “American harvest festival and feast” instead and see what happens.

    Pumpkin pie is a weird concept here, though. One person actually corrected me, assuring me that I was thinking of something else. They were so confident about it that I actually questioned whether I had my facts straight for a second.

    Black Friday is creeping in to Germany as well, but it’s not a huge deal here. Reply

    • November 12, 2019 2:18pm
      David Lebovitz

      What was interesting, regarding pumpkin pie, was someone elsewhere tried to tell me that it was “American” (i.e.; North American) to sweeten pumpkins. But in Provence, France, people candy pumpkins, in Italy, there are candied pumpkin desserts, and even in south and central America, I’ve seen recipes for pumpkin sweets. Pumpkin pie may have been an offshoot of a cuisine that came from elsewhere, since the U.S. is such a melting pot, but not sure – just a theory! Reply

  • Ms. M
    November 12, 2019 5:01pm

    Re: Serious Eats SF burritos list, I’m with you on El Castillito. The one in the Castro was a block from my apt. and I almost cried when it closed. I love that they slightly grill the tortillas while melting the cheese on them Reply

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