Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giving Thanks in France? Here's Help.

Thanksgiving is Thursday and that means Americans all over France are scurrying around trying to find cranberries, pumpkin pie filling and of course, the butcher who will order that big fresh turkey even though it's really late. (If you're a turkey, I'd lay very low the next few days.)

While I'm sad to be missing Thanksgiving with my mom and the Minkoff gang at home in Milwaukee, I'm super excited to be having it here in Provence, with a big group of friends and their friends in the beautiful village of Eygalières. We're all foodies, we're all cooking or baking...and we're all thanks-giving to Stephanie Fray, the rock star who's orchestrating this amazing feast. (*If you don't have Thanksgiving plans but want some, see the info at the end of this post.*)

If you're hosting your own Thanksgiving or bringing a dish, there are a few shops that might be able to help you locate that hard-to-find ingredient--or suggest a reasonable substitute. Whether they have what you need for the holiday or not, it's great to know about them anyway, for year-round essentials such as Graham Grackers, Marshmallow Fluff, Coffee-Mate, Peanut Butter, Triscuits and Dr. Pepper! If I were a better person, I'd call around for you and see who has what--but I'm far too busy flipping through Grama’s old recipe box trying to decide what I'm going to make. (You know how, in 1620, the Native Americans went way out of their way to help the newly arrived Pilgrims? I'm not like that.) 

My American Market is a well-established online shop, based in Toulouse, that stocks an enormous number of American products.  Their "Holiday and Thanksgiving" section shows they still have pumpkin pie filling, canned sweet potatoes, pecans, turkey stuffing, cranberry sauce, marshmallows, Crisco, corn syrup, cornbread mix and more--and they're likely to have at least of those items the rest of the year as well. If you order by tomorrow (Monday), you can still get your goodies by Thursday...and there's always express (24-hour) delivery as well.

In Antibes, Geoffrey's of London has been supplying British groceries along the French Riviera for 20 years. They also have American, South African and Australian goodies, in their store and online. They recently launched a home-delivery service, from St. Tropez to San Remo.

In Montpellier, Chuck and Judi Fowler, who hail from Oregon and California, opened the English Corner Shop in October 2010 selling products from America, England and Australia. They're sold out of pumpkin pie mix but they still have cranberry sauce and turkey stuffing. And they’ve posted a pumpkin pie recipe on their Facebook page made from real pumpkin. (Good luck with that!) The English Corner Shop does no mail order or delivery--you have to go in.

The grand-daddy of them all seems to be the shop called Thanksgiving, selling American products in Paris for the last 25 years. (Normally they sell online too but this is such a crazy week for them they've shut down mail-order until early December.) For the holiday, Thanksgiving sells fresh, farm-raised turkeys (remember that for next year), plus cranberries, yams, pumpkin and pecan pies and New York-style cheesecake. But all year round their shelves overflow with bagels and Philadelphia cream cheese, American-style bacon, Cajun breakfast sausages, Tex Mex foods, Maple Syrup, Liption Onion Soup/Dip Mix, Baked Beans, Kraft Mac & Cheese and much more. 

There are certainly other stores, in France and online, that sell American and "Anglo" foods. If you know of any, we'd love to hear so please leave a comment below. Meanwhile, I want to wish you all the happiest of holidays. I have much to be thankful for, such as you guys--my loyal readers--and my loving family and fabulous friends. I'm especially thankful, every day, to have a mom as amazing as mine. Her Thanksgivings (before she finally said basta!) were legendary, with as many as 25 of us around the table. She's a fantastic cook and I'm inspired by her every time I step into the kitchen. (She's also the smartest, funniest, most-capable and loving woman I know. ) I'm also thankful to Barbara Leto for reminding me about some of these great shops. I'd be particularly thankful if the Minkoffs sent me some of their famous Thanksgiving hot fudge. And I'm very very thankful I'm not the one hosting 12 crazy foodies for dinner on Thursday!!

*Note: Hungry for Dinde Farcie and company? I called around to see where you might go but I'm late and a few of the open-to-the-public Thanksgivings in Provence (such as the one at StarsNBars in Monaco and the Anglo American Group of Provence one in Aix), are sold out.  I did find two, one that has seats left for sure and one that might. * The American Club of the Riviera will host a traditional Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, starting at 12:30Turkey and all the trimmings will be preceded by a Champagne reception. It's €80 (members and immediate family), €90 (members of affiliated clubs), or €95 (non-members). To reserve, please contact Jay by Tuesday at the latest: or  call 06-70-30-63-18. * The group called France Etats-Unis will hold a Thanksgiving dinner on Friday November 25, at the Yachting Club Pointe Rouge in Marseille, starting at 7 p.m. I was unable to reach them but if you're interested, all the info is here and you can contact them directly:, 09-71-34-35-78.


  1. Great to have all these on line shopping ideas for the big feast.
    Happy Thanksgiving Julie!

  2. Dear Ms. Mautner,

    How fun to read through that list of French shops catering to expatriates who are clamoring for their marmite or velveeta fix (for the record?... even my Tennessee born & bred mother has been so sufficiently harangued by bossy-boots foodies that she simply announces, these days, "Okay...FINE....I already KNOW it's not real 'cheese'. That's not the point. I LOVE it. This household couldn't have SURVIVED the 60's and 70's without Velveeta.").

    Somewhere in David Lebowitz's "the Sweet Life in Paris", he mentions his cherished rack of Essential American, can't live-without-them products. As I recall he specifically cites crunchy peanut butter and Lipton's dried onion-soup mix. Apparently, one of the world's most renowned bakers/pastry chefs doesn't mind casually doling out his own creations, for free, to all sorts of sundry folks.....but you have got to be someone REALLY UNIQUE, SPECIAL, & BELOVED before he lets you so much as look at one of his precious and hard-gained, hauled-on-his-back-through-various-international-airports, boxes of Lipton dried onion soup.

    Lipton's dried onion soup is, of course, about as close to Les Halles formerly renowned Potage a l'Oignon as Velveeta is to Roquefort........but, once again, that wouldn't be the point.

    As for Thanksgiving in France?.....

    As you may know, my partner's French. More specifically, he's an epidemiologist & specialist in co-infection retro-virals (I think I've got that right, maybe...). In any case, you can safely assume that he doesn't spend too many of his working-hours around genuinely stupid people. Nonetheless?....each year and around this time?....he's asked by at least 5 or so folks (americans) "Now, what do you do in FRANCE for Thanksgiving?....". I've never asked him what he says in reply; presumably, it's something more diplomatic than "What an idiotic question."

    thanks again for the intriguing and genuinely fun blog....

    Level Best as Ever,
    David Terry (who realized, just yesterday, that Thanksgiving is THIS Thursday instead of next Thursday...which was a jarring realization, since I'm obliged to cook for about fifteen people for three days)

  3. When it is turkey time, there is no substituting. We Canadians (ours in October) and American start craving it weeks before sometime months before, so your help with this Julie will be more than appreciated.Some smart restaurant would be wise to bake up dozens of pumpkin and apple pies..........and they would be gone in no time. Thanksgiving is pure taste of home, no geting around it. The same goes for Xmas, I have spend days finding a true Christmas dinner while we are away this season, So far no luck but I will find it. Good post. XO

  4. Hey Julie! great post, and wish I'd known all these resources my Thanksgiving over there when we hosted 20+... the biggest "surprise" was the cost of the turkey, about $95 each! but that Thanksgiving was incredibly wonderful, since we were on the Mediterranean, we grilled the turkeys and France's best patisseries had our backs... a glorious holiday we spent!