Thoughts on the Feast
Food, glorious food.
Yes, it’s a foodie’s favorite time of year. I know that because I am one. And I know I have been self indulgent because of the lack of breathing room in my dungarees. But oh my, what a trip it has been. As the song says: "Haul out the holly, Put up the tree before my spirit falls again."
And I would add: make sure the tables are decked in cookies.
We do our celebrating Christmas Eve, with presents, casseroles, children and a reading of "Visit from Saint Nicholas" read by the grandfather. The Spanglish version keeps their interest.
"'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa, not a creature was stirring—¡Caramba! ¿Qué pasa?"
But we are getting off the subject: food.
I checked with a couple families I knew would do it up right and was not disappointed.
Kevin Flannery knows his food. He is the creative spirit behind SlowPokes BBQ, on Beharrell Street. The award-winning chef concentrates on extended family Christmas Day and between 20-30 people dine on the best he has to offer. This year the menu was two rolled sirloin strips, rubbed with an herb dressing of pepper, paprika, garlic, parsley, fresh rosemary and possibly other herbs. The beef is cooked for about 1 ½ hours in Kevin’s Texas-made smoker. Texans know their smokers.
While the beef were smoking, the guests sipped oyster stew.
The beef was served with twice baked potatoes and cauliflower prosciutto casserole. For dessert: crème brulee.
The Crounse Pooler family went French, as we suspected they would.
After Christmas Eve mass the family gathered around the table for sweet potato soup, followed by chicken, sausage and prunes, and a gateau Concord from La Provence for dessert. The gateau Concord is that irresistible chocolate mousse covered with tubes of chocolate meringue.
Santa Claus comes during the night and in the morning the boys open gifts as the family breakfasts on oven-baked French toast and sausage, and settles in for a morning of playing with the toys. And then off to les grands-parents for a dinner of filet mignon. Lots of sides and a buche de noel made by grand-mère Pooler.
As for the Beyers, well nothing to compare. But there were ample cookies, ice cream, hot fudge sauce and leftovers from the Flannery dinner, just as good the next day. For Christmas dinner we followed the example of the family in A Christmas Story and took ourselves to the Great Wall where we found we were not alone in going Chinese for Christmas dinner. And surprised to find we liked it. It didn’t compare with filet mignon and buche de noel, but there was no clean up.
As I wrote in the last Thoughts and Afterthoughts, no matter why you gather together in the longest days of the year, it is important to do so, to enjoy each other right now. The lyrics to "We Need A Little Christmas" express it nicely. I began with one line and will close with others, wishing you all a new year filled with laughter and adventure.
"For I've grown a little leaner
Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder
Grown a little older
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder
Need a little Christmas now"
The classic movie Fannie and Alexander opens with a scene of a sparkling Christmas feast that includes laughter, naughtiness (both adults and children), candles, and gorgeous food.
For a more thoughtful take on the season try Tru with Robert Morse as the wicked and talented Truman Capote after his fall from grace. Christmas Eve was not quite the same after his tell-all book.
And of course for twelfth night: The Dead, based on the James Joyce story and available through Netflicks, was John Houston’s last film. Beautifully told and exquisitely filmed, an Epiphany dinner is filmed in real time with touching family relationships, and personal epiphanies.