24 December 2006

On festive foods

Erica has a meme about festive foods. I’m neither a pastor nor a woman, so can’t contribute to the conversation directly. But here are the questions, with my responses.

  • What is your favorite candy/cookie/baked good without which it is not Christmas?
    Sanbakkelse and rosettes. Sanbakkelse are thicker, softer, and far tastier than their mundane cousin, the shortbread cookie. Rosettes are difficult to make—they’re delicate flower-shaped fried dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar; rosettes are similar in taste to funnel cake, I think. Nordic baked goods are wonderful.

  • Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)
    My family started with a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve; we had lutefisk (lye-cured cod), lefse (the Nordic tortilla), mashed potatoes, and sundry other goodies. For the lutefisk-disinclined, there were also Swedish meatballs. Pizza became Christmas Eve dinner, and this meal moved to Christmas Day, when my dad began serving a church that had three services on Christmas Eve. It has faded away after my parents got divorced and Kirstin and I were out of the house. Lutefisk is a pain to get right—if it isn’t cooked right, it ends up being a gross, gelatinous mess, and isn’t very flavorful to begin with. This year, we’re having dinner on Christmas Day with Erica’s extended family.

  • Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.
    I’ll evaluate all three. Hot chocolate is too commonplace in the winter to be a true holiday beverage. I’ve never had wassail, but it sounds tasty. I love egg nog, especially when it’s made with alcoholic eggs (listen to John Hodgman on the “This American Life” Holiday Spectacular.

  • Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?
    There are differently flavored candy canes? I’ll stick to the peppermint, thank you very much.

  • Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?
    No. I’m disturbed that it’s “figgy pudding” and not “fig pudding”—it reminds me of “real artificial flavor.” If I were hungry enough, though, I wouldn’t go until I got some.

Advent is all about anticipation. For those of us needing instant gratification, this year’s Advent season is as short as it can get: it’s the fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve! Wooo!

If you’re looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, I recommend getting something from Heifer International or donating in someone’s honor to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

This is the archive for commonplace book entries that I published in December 2006.