Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent Calendar - December 2 - Holiday Foods

When I was a kid growing up, Mama fixed basically the same dishes for Thanksgiving as for Christmas, with one exception: Thanksgiving meat was turkey and on Christmas it was ham.

The remainder of the meal consisted of Mama’s oyster stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. Mama always put butter, brown sugar and marshmallows on her sweet potatoes. They were always more like a dessert to me than a side dish!

Mama did always serve egg nog on Christmas Eve, and for special occasions, such as when we did the tree trimming.

Mama also served an old-fashioned fruit cake to guests during the season, and as part of the dessert following our Christmas dinner. This isn't like the almost brick-like consistency of commercially made fruitcakes today. This was a moist fruitcake, with huge chunks of fermented fruit in it. Usually the cake was soaked in rum for about a month before serving. [I have taken a cheap commercial fruitcake, soaked it in rum and thought it quite palatable! Or maybe it was just the intoxicating effects of the rum.....hmmmm!] The point is, the fruitcake we had when I was growing up was quite the excellent dessert! To this day, I enjoy a good holiday fruitcake. I usually make mine from scratch, enjoying the 6 week-long process of preparing the fruit in the fermenting of it before the baking in a cake batter. Yum!

I suppose our Christmas meal was much like others in our neighborhood. There really wasn’t much that was considered unusual about it. It was always served on Mama's best china, and she used her best crystal. The tablecloth was the finest lace cloth Mama had. When we got a little older, Mama would use candles on the table. And even though Daddy was gone with the military, Mama set a place setting just for him at his seat, reminding us Daddy was gone serving our country, protecting our home and the homes of every American. In that respect, our table might have been a bit different from some of my friends. Daddy may not have been able to be there, but my Mama always made sure his memory was front and center. That our pride never wavered in the flag which he served under. It never has. It never will.

However, I remember one Christmas at school, when one of my classmates came from a Polish family. I was probably about 8 or 9 years of age at the time. Sandra described her Christmas dinner as fish with potato pancakes and cream sauce. I can remember the other children in our class moaning and saying “Yuck!”

This year, I’ve had to change my dietary habits a bit. So, instead of the usual ham to grace the table, I plan on broiling a whole salmon half. A bit of garlic. Some dill. A little lemon.

Who’s crying “Yuck” now?

1 comment:

Joan said...

The picture looks like it comes out of "Sunset Magazine" - beautiful, and what a spread.