Bring Out the Tamales

IMG_9279What is it about holiday parties that they always seem the same? I’ve hosted hundreds of them, attended even more, and every one of them is a replica of years past. The dinner whether served buffet style or delivered to the table, is usually the same fare – the requisite ham, turkey, and green bean casserole. I know some of you love all this tradition, but I don’t. I want to bring out the chicken smothered in mole sauce with a garnish of pomegranate seeds. Or a steaming hot bowl of pho with hard boiled egg, thin slices beef and mint leaves. I know. The kids would go “Eeu!” and grandma would roll her eyes and keel over. Mention Christmas and your taste buds come scrambling into your mouth, all jostling for position to be first in line for tradition.

Did you know that smell is the strongest sense we have? We can lose our eyesight, our taste buds can go south, touch is no longer accurate, and sound, well, don’t get me started. Smell, on the other hand, can take you back to your childhood when you came running into your mother’s kitchen to snatch a slice of freshly baked bread slathered with rich butter. Or it can remind you of your first glass of pink champagne when you breathed in the bubbles and they raced up your nose and made you sneeze like crazy, or when you got a whiff of a gardenia bush on a hot summer night letting off it’s sweet, sultry fragrance.

I’d like to start some new traditions that include not only exotic culinary delights, but aromas that would provide us with a new library of memories that would lead us into the future. Like smoked, crushed chiles, Spanish saffron, spicy chocolate, and star anise.

Calvin says, “Yep, smell is my obsession. I’m intoxicated by fox droppings.” beagle

 

Heaps of Thanks It’s Over

Thanksgiving is over. I’m relieved.

It was a meal that didn’t live up to expectations.

The turkey tasted gamey. It should have lived.

The dressing was flat. It never made the leap from blah to wow.

The apple pie was limp and fell into a heap when on the plate.

I cancelled the mashed potatoes this year. It was already a carb fest without them, why did we need more? was my line of thinking.

Big mistake.

Never mess with tradition.

The kids complained, my husband frowned, and the dog howled.

“There’s no place for the gravy,” my son, the traditionalist said.

“The turkey is naked without it,” Alf said.

“I came for the gravy, now where do I put it?” said my friend.

“The Pilgrims didn’t make gravy,” I said.

“They didn’t make cranberry and orange relish either, and I see that on the table,” said Alf.

I was skewered. In my own kitchen.

Calvin says, “You should have consulted me. I would have told you to skip the green food and make a mountain of smashed spuds.”