Happy Thanksgiving #1

Eight years ago I was a student studying abroad, I’d walk through this garden a couple times a week to get to my photography class at Studio Vermes and make my way to this lounge as I’d prepare myself to go hide myself in one of the darkrooms for hours on end. My family came to visit me for Thanksgiving of that year, and I brought them by the studio on Thanksgiving day. And on a complete fluke we ended up having a photo shoot right there on the spot. It remains one of my favorite – and most atypical – Thanksgiving memories ever. And last Saturday, now 8 years later, I found myself returning to the very same spot for a very different Thanksgiving celebration.
Meet Philippe, photographe francais extraordinaire. Here he is pictured with a postcard from the current Irving Penn show going on in Paris. Of course in Paris the turkey for dinner came complete with head, so Nancy and I (ok, it was all Nancy and I went and hid in the corner) took the cleaver to it. Knowing Philippe all too well, Nancy knew he’d see the head and want to photograph it. So we hid it – until everything was ready – and then we took this picture. Philippe, if you’re reading this, I hope that head isn’t still hiding in the studio to be photographed like your rotting fish!
Meet Nancy, the delightful, fabulous exuberant wife of Philippe. Although she’s American, I’d argue that she cooks just as well, if not better than any French woman. She’s also my new cooking mentor these days and we slaved away together in the kitchen all day. The other wonderful thing about Nancy is her passion. Recently, or later in life as she describes, she discovered her love of singing. She’s been working with a professional teacher, and before dinner she put on a magical performance for all the guests (which even involved a cross-dressing performance by Philippe, but you’ll have to click on the extra images below to see that!).
The kitchen became a bit of a comedy routine from the start. Nancy said is was something right out of a Woody Allen movie. If so I need to be watching more Woody Allen movies!

The most important lesson: Cook with Love.

Lesson two: Always make extra! The 30 guests multiplied to 38!
But it was a jolly good time of merriment for all and a wonderful spectrum of lovely guests! (pictured here “dining room” aka the photo studio!).
Final lesson as many of you celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones today: limit yourself to how many desserts you have. I had to try three different kids, and I practically had to roll myself home at the end of the night!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all! More to follow from my Thanksgiving celebrations #2 and #3 later this weekend. Vive la France – I love the enthusiasm for Thanksgiving here, and I already have had to turn down two other T-day invitations. (By the way, you can pick up all your American supplies at a store that conveniently is called Thanksgiving in the Marais).

Click here for more images from my marathon THANKSGIVING #1 :)


  • I know the lesson two – “Always make extra” very well. I learned it about two years ago. I think that it’s the biggest shame when you don’t have enough food for all your guests. Then, it’s much about improvisation and you must be very careful not to displease your guests. It’s good to learn this lesson rather from the experience of others than from our own experience.

    Take care,

  • Wow, hard to believe it was 8 years ago that we visited. Well, have to go put our Turkey in the oven…we will miss you. Love the French attitude toward cooking–obviously Nancy is a multi-talented teacher!

  • Ann, you need to send that wheel of brie to DC stat!! I would have eaten half of that thing! Great pictures and looks like it was a super fun holiday. All the best, Jill

  • They just had a great article in the New Yorker about the trials and tribulations of creating Thanksgiving in other countries, and the Parisian tales made me think of you… though it sounds like you had a wonderful one!!!

    P.S. LOVE the OFS! you better submit that ;)

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