Every year in late November, Americans come together with family and friends to reflect, be thankful and help those in need, all while sharing a sizable meal composed of roast turkey, cranberry stuffing, mashed potatoes, string beans and decadent pies. There are few American celebrations that represent the comfort of home and family as whole-heartedly as Thanksgiving.
But what happens when home and family are far away, and you are living as foreigner in a country where Thanksgiving isn’t a tradition? Not to worry – Thanksgiving happens to be one of those rituals Americans take with them when they move abroad, and it’s no different here in Switzerland.
No matter your age, profession or preferred pie flavour, there is probably a place for you to spend Thanksgiving this year on Thursday 26 November and not miss out on delicious food and great company.
If you are looking to delight your taste buds with traditional Thanksgiving dishes with a twist of French flair and whipped up by a Michelin-star chef, we’ve got the perfect place. The American International Club (AIC) of Geneva will be hosting its annual Thanksgiving Dinner at the Hotel Beau-Rivage on Friday, 27 November at 19h00. For a non-member fee of CHF 150 (CHF 125 for members). The Thanksgiving meal this year is the creation of Chef Michel Roth, formally of the Ritz Paris. His menu offered the usual Thanksgiving fare – turkey, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie – but with a decidedly French Fusion touch, including foie gras. As well as cocktails hosted by Bacardi, there will be a Tombola and charity auction to aid Geneva Red Cross’s support for the homeless. There will also be a band and dancing.
“Thanksgiving is really a must for Americans living abroad,” said Mary Hofstetter, Director of Development at the AIC, in an interview with Le News. “They really feel they’ve missed something if they haven’t had Thanksgiving. It’s such an important part of American tradition and it brings people together in a very friendly, intimate way.”
Craving a more cozy evening with a no-fuss, set menu of the staple Thanksgiving dishes? Au P’tit Bonheur WAS the place to go. Sadly it closed on 30 September 2015. A set Thanksgiving menu is still an option at Restaurant Seventy 5 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Make sure to call ahead of time for reservations.
But if you want your Thanksgiving meal to really taste like home – and also save some money while you’re at it – why not impress your friends, American or not, with a feast prepared “chez vous”? Head to the open-air market on Place de la Fusterie on Wednesdays and stock up on essentials like dried cranberries, figs, nuts and fresh produce. And smaller-than-American Swiss ovens are no excuse to forgo the turkey: you can cut your prep-time by buying your turkey or ham from Jim’s British Markets in St. Genis or Gland, or order it online through Jim’s website.
Most importantly, with the gift-giving season right around the corner, consider getting a head start on Thanksgiving by donating to a local charity or cause of your choice. It could be a local hospice, an orphanage, or you can even find a cause online at Cause Direct. While Thanksgiving is certainly a time to loosen your belt and enjoy great food, remember the essence of the holiday: count your blessings, and spread some around, too.