Fitting into un grille-pain (toaster), and Thanksgiving

Not long ago, a dear friend (let’s call her “Lisa”) sent me a kitchen/tea towel that fits me perfectly.

Lisa’s birthday is tomorrow, and I messed up and didn’t send her a gift (or even a card). So I wanted to wish her a bon anniversaire here…and tell her I miss her and am thinking of her this Thanksgiving.

We live thousands of miles apart, but many years ago, we were roommates in college. Back then, she didn’t cook either, but she does now. I discovered this a few years ago when she came to visit us and helped my husband with the cooking for our annual Christmas fête. I wasn’t amazed — many women people can, and do, cook. But Lisa went above and beyond the call of a special weekend guest, chopping, stirring, baking and assembling — and loving it. She also complimented my husband’s cooking abilities and asked him for recipes.

Which made him feel très apprécié.

Perhaps because he is such a great cook, early in our marriage he and I lived for many years without a toaster, or un grille-pain (but we did own a funky gadget that produced croque-monsieurs.) I guess we weren’t much into toasted bread or bagels back then (and I try to stay away from them now). We finally bought un grille-pain when frozen waffles became a preferred (and easy) breakfast item for our kids.

(Let me just stop here and say that, though the word grille-pain looks  painful — and I suppose it is, to the bread/pain — it sounds très cool en français.)

Last summer, when we were weekend guests in a French home in Lyon,* we noticed their grille-pain: it was so différent from any we had seen back in America. Made to toast pieces of French bread (baguettes) that have been sliced through the middle, not from the top, it was an interesting appliance, with its long shape and wide, long slots. My husband added it to the list of French cuisine products, ingredients, and customs (like a cheese plate after dinner) that he admired and wanted to acquire.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find one yet, but I may cherche (look for) one as a Christmas gift.

Back to cooking…

Since our wonderful American holiday Thanksgiving is just days away, mon mari et moi (well, more him than me) are planning the menu for Thursday. We will only have seven people at the table, but he will prepare plusieurs plats traditionnels. I will contribute two simple dishes: a sweet potato casserole and fresh cooked cranberries. I’ve done them almost every year for decades, but making them will still be a challenge.

Since they don’t fit into a toaster!

[In my new novel MAKE THAT DEUX, Jenny and her roommates are a little lonely at Thanksgiving. I won’t say what they do about it, but I will say that their solution isn’t ideal….and it doesn’t fit into un grille-pain…]

* for more, see my post Lyon and Beaujolais, with the French and a faux pas, 11-6-12

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