My parents both grew up rather poor and in another era. So our Christmas traditions were ones we made ourselves in our tiny nuclear family. My mother was also an anglophile so many of the traditions echoed something out of a Victorian novel. Christmas food traditions however never stuck (except for cinnamon rolls by the tree) which has in itself become sort of a tradition. The closest Christmas Dinner food tradition we had was that my mother loved to set food on fire. Not in a bad way mind you. Flambe. Baked Alaska, Hard Sauce for our plum pudding, Duck* a la orange, all set aflame one Christmas or another.
So in my family, our Christmas food tradition (along with the cinnamon rolls) follows my whim**. Basically, I plan a meal that makes sense to me for Christmas. It’s exciting. It’s strange. It’s traditional (I got vetoed on the Goose this year though). It’s new-to-me. Something about it screams festive to me that year. The funny thing is, I can’t really remember what we’ve had in the past. The tradition is more about the conferencing with the family to pick a menu, the planning, the execution, and the enjoyment. I guess it isn’t a traditional tradition, but if feels right to me.
If anyone actually reads this blog (hahahahahahahahah, I kill me!) I’d love to hear about other people’s Christmas food traditions. In the meantime, our menu for this year is as follows…
*Somewhere around the middle of my childhood my mother found out that Ducks mated for life. After that she never served just one duck. I’m not kidding. If we had duck, we had two. It didn’t matter that there were only three people in our family, we cooked ducks in pairs.
**Actually we always have mashed potatoes. Sometimes they are truffled or otherwise embellished, but mashed potatoes always adorn our Christmas table.
CHRISTMAS 2010 Menu
(Last night watched Gordon Ramsey’s Christmas traditions and he made a mulled wine with Lemongrass which he served with spiced almonds. I’m trying to figure out where I can work that into my festivities. Maybe on the 23rd after my father arrives and after we go out to eat at Aladdin’s where my wretched teenage son is a waiter.)
(We had already decided on Beef Wellington before seeing the show, but it was a happy coincidence since he gave me the idea of including Chestnuts in the duxelles. I’m just going to fuse his method w the recipe below.)
Last year we tried to do some version of the feast of the seven (9? 12?) fishes. It didn’t work. Too much trouble with a lot of other hubbub going on.
Lobsters with Vanilla Butter
Risotto of some sort (that will depend on what produce and or cheese selections strike my fancy tomorrow at 6 am when I hit the strip)
Beans and Greens, Italian Style (Escarole, white beans, anchovies)
Heavily Spiked Egg Nog
Cheese selection from Penn Mac (impossible to predict)
Cured meats from strip
Caponata made with IPA
Other marinated and cured veg
Sicilian Brussels Sprouts, with Pancetta, Pine Nuts, and Yellow Raisins
Asparagus w Pecorino Romano, Lemon Zest and Truffle Oil***
Lentil Loaf (for the kids and Vegan guest)
***I. Love. Truffles. I cannot hyperbolize my love for these little fungi. If I lust after food in general, you do not want to know how I feel about truffles specifically.