Friday, November 18, 2005

Thanksgiving Turkey Saga

As you may know, every year, Dan and I have a "widows and orphans" Thanksgiving dinner where we deep-fry a turkey for all of our friends who have been stranded without family over the holiday. This year, Dan and I find ourselves in the category of "widows and orphans."

Not to be dismayed, we decided to go ahead with Thanksgiving, with just the two of us. Since international security is a little touchy about shipping bottles of propane, which they consider "explosives", Dan and I are without a deep fryer. So, this year I will cook my first turkey! And here begins what I will call my "European Thanksgiving Saga":

Planning ahead (since there could be a potential run on turkeys by other American expats), I headed out to order a turkey. Since my French stinks, I looked up in my handy little pocket dictionary how to say "turkey." Phonetically, it looked like "dingdong" without the "g's". Armed with this valuable piece of information, I set out for my FIRST butcher shop. Needless to say, the first butcher spoke little or no English. So, embracing the language challenge, I confidently asked for a "dingdong". Let's just say that "dingdong" does not automatically equate to "turkey." The man looked at me like I was crazy. Embarassed, but not dismayed, I headed across the street to the SECOND butcher shop.

Again, I asked the butcher if she spoke English. Again, the answer was "no." So, I decided to give the old "dingdong" a go again. She, too, looked at me like I was crazy. She turned and went into a back room and emerged with a very cute guy who spoke some English. At this point, he told me that "dingdong" sounds nothing like the French word for "turkey" and that I should probably quit asking for this at butcher stores. He told me the correct French word for "turkey", which I promptly forgot. He had no turkeys but he would sell me a chicken! I said, no thanks, si vous plait.

Let's just say the lady behind the counter at the THIRD butcher store scared me and I was not about to try to communicate with her.

While most would be deterred at this point, I was determined to find a dingdong/turkey. So, I did what I have found myself doing many times this past week, especially if lost or confused. I went to the cheese shop. Why the cheese shop? you ask. Because the guy at the cheese shop speaks excellent English! He told me to try the butcher shop a block over from the black church.

Once I found the black church (a church that is turning black because of all of the pollution), it was easy to spot the butcher shop. It was positioned between the mushroom stand and a dry cleaners. I knew it was a butcher shop by context clues -- which means that the dead rabbits and pheasants hanging from the ceiling gave it away! (By dead rabbits and pheasants, I mean recently dead, with their hair and feathers still on! See above photo!)

Tentatively, I entered the shop and asked if they spoke English. Of course, as my luck was going, no English. Having learned my lesson, I knew better than to ask for a "dingdong". So, instead, I resorted to using the universal word for turkey -- "gobble gobble" while flapping my arms and pointing at the pheasants hanging from the ceiling. Needless to say, this was more effective than the "dingdong method." She pulled out a calender and I THINK I ordered a turkey for 11/24. At this point, I am a happy camper!

Halfway to the apartment, it hit me that I was, very likely, going to get a turkey with its head on, with wings, feet, feathers and insides! I rushed back to the butcher store. Take it from me, the universal way to ask for "no head, no wings, no feathers, no feet and no insides" is MUCH more difficult than the universal word for "turkey." I'm sure I looked like a possessed person having an epileptic seizure as I was making chopping motions at my neck, my arms, my feet and then pulling phantom "insides" from my stomach area, all the while chanting "no, no no".

Bottom line -- I have no idea what Dan and I are eating for Thanksgiving!!


Blogger Trish said...

How can you do a Thanksgiving feast without cooking any "green" items?? Can't wait to hear what end up on your table!! Whatever it is...I hope your first international Thanksgiving is wonderful!! Will be thinking of you and Dan, and praying someone who can actually cook invites you over!!

1:36 AM  
Blogger WENDEE said...


4:43 PM  
Blogger John Gottlieb said...

maybe if you order from a couple more butcher shops you can get a medley of birds and make a turducken...mmm

Have a wonderful thanksgiving!!!

2:42 AM  

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