Meanwhile: Chacun à son goût on Thanksgiving

Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>In honor of Thanksgiving today, I’m re-posting my favorite tongue-in-cheek article on Thanksgiving, written by Art Buchwald, explaining this very American holiday to his French readers.

This column first appeared in the International Herald Tribune many, many Thanksgivings ago! Each year, the IHT reprints his article, much to the delight of readers everywhere!

Happy Thanksgiving! Bonne “Jour de Merci Donnant”!

The Antiques Diva™

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />The Turkey Growers Association has approved this message.

One of our most important American holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart’s content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux- Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant:
“Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.”

“I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden.”

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l’étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: “If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?” (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” (Chacun à son goût.)

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.
No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

Art Buchwald. This column first appeared in the IHT many, many Thanksgivings ago.

Thanksgiving Wine

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Dear Wine Guy,

I love it when you write Guest Blogs on your wife’s Antiques Diva blog. I have another “reader’s question” for you. I was reading a wine column on and it recommended several wines for a turkey dinner. One of our guests does not like any sweet wines and another only likes white wine.

Which of these Epicurious recommendations would you choose to accompany Thanksgiving Dinner?

Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris

Thanks for the help!
The Contessa


top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Dear Contessa,

I always enjoy reading your Guest Blogs on my wife’s blog as well!

For Thanksgiving dinner, I typically go with two options. I always serve a red wine for Turkey Day because, well, I’m a bit of a red wine snob and I’m hard pressed to find any large dinner where a good red wine won’t fit… Since Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday, I always pair it with a traditional wine found only in America – red Zinfandel*. It’s a pretty robust red! For some people who prefer something lighter, I’d recommend a Pinot Noir from Oregon.

For whites, I would choose between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. Creamy chardonnay can go with the creamy potatoes, but a Sauvignon Blanc would go well with your stuffing, especially if it’s a bit spicy (flavorful, with herbs, etc). If the wines above are the only options, and there is a requirement to avoid sweeter wines, then I would go for the Pinot Gris or a Pinot Blanc from Alsace.

* A little side bar on Zinfandel…It’s a grape varietal (just as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are varieties of grapes) that is really only successfully grown in the United States, notably in California. Like most everything else in America, the Zinfandel grape itself probably has origins in other parts of the world, but nowhere does the successful production even come close to that produced in California. As I mentioned above, the red Zin you will find in the shops today will be big, bold and jammy with a rather high alcohol content. One of my favorites is “7 Deadly Zins” because it’s a value at around $12-14 and is one of the better names I’ve stumbled across! Another one I try taking as a hostessing gift here in Europe is Bonny Doon’s Cardinal Zin (another clever name!). This will run you a few more dollars per bottle but I find it’s worth it and gives me the chance to learn a little more about the Bonny Doon fascination (you may be surprised to learn that you will find nary a one cork in any of their wine…all bottles come with screw caps). So, crack open a bottle of Zin and celebrate two “American traditions” – Happy Thanksgiving!

~The Wine Guy