Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Holiday Meal

In this season, The WesFoodie’s family performs an odd, half-realized dance of cultural confusions called The Holidays. I look forward to it all the rest of the year. The best parts are about the eatings.

Although entirely Jewish, and a mix of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic at that, my wife’s family celebrates a certain version of X-Mas. It is a celebration of something other than the birth of Jesus. It is probably best described as a celebration of the American celebration of the birth of Jesus but without the birth of Jesus part. That is ( I think) a celebration of the American celebration in late December where gifts are given, warmth is shared, food is eaten and for others there is something-else-going-on-that-has-something-to-do-with-otherness-things-but-let’s-not-talk-about-it,-think-about-it,-or-do-anthing-about-it. The Holidays.

Each year we gather at my in-laws for a feast and copious present giving. I really enjoy both so this is a big treat for me. Unfortunately the food sometimes needs to be coaxed toward the tasty variety and away from the tendency for everything to taste as white as the fur lining on Santa’s neck piece.

To decide just what to eat for The Holiday Meal among the ten independent minded people involved, a method has been devised involving voting. Complex formulas involving weighted votes have been proposed, but basically it comes down to one person one vote every year. Finally this year my wife and I have another baby so we have as many votes as my in-laws. It makes sense of all the sleepless nights and diapering disasters – we now have an additional vote. The grandparents are the tie breakers and that will require lobbying efforts, minor excusable bribes and ultimately throwing a fit for which I will be embarrassed until next October when I start juicing up for The Holiday Meal again. Oh well, its worth it. No, not really; I need to find a better way to advance the culinary arts at my in-laws.

This year, having lots of food writing experience, I am devising a list of voting choices which I am sure, almost, will result in my favorite winning out (and without the adult tantrum).

Here they are – see if you can guess which is the real WesFoodie Choice.

Indulge in the French Influence on Asian Cuisine
Close your eyes. Picture a white heron gently lifting its wings and gliding up from a green misted rice field. Smell the Golden pho gha, an aromatic pot of chicken soup, slow simmered in a nearby kitchen. Imagine salmon in a clay pot with caramel sauce, lemongrass infused com suon suong (grilled pork), bo luc lac (beef cubes) and (for grown ups) caphe phin den da (Vietnamese iced coffee)! Now you have seen our family holiday meal. A favorite of all involved, Vietnamese Kicks Holiday Tush. Let’s chow down with the best of Saigon.

Whole Succulent Suckling Pig
What better way to celebrate something, uh, other than the birth of baby Jesus, than with a whole suckling pig oven baked and tender to the tooth. Crispy skin, moist meat, fascinating cuts of porkness, its all there for the eating. Served with a variety of home cooked sauces, bar-be-que, plum, soy ginger, mustard, this little piggy is going to market all right! Come and taste the oinkness!

Scrumptious Healthful Prime Rib Roast - An Essential Holiday Feast
Nothing satisfies the family's cravings for holiday warmth like a celebratory standing rib roast. Cut thick and fresh the roast pleases with the deep rich flavor of beef, a note of garlic, a gentle breath of herbs and slight bite of pepper from its crust. This is a meal that brings grandparents back to a more elegant time, fulfills parent's desires for a true holiday experience and treats children to a new tradition. The roast is perfect for a real holiday feast.

The roast will be served with a choice of light and buttery mashed potatoes, fragrant jasmine rice, tender vegetables and a nuanced mushroom shallot sauce.

Anything Else - It Ain't Dirt
Fish, pasta or chicken, at the holiday table, it may not be the first thing everyone wants but, well, it ain't dirt. Dirt consists of
mineral and organic matter, including living organisms. Dirt, comprising the pedosphere, is positioned at the interface of the lithosphere with the biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere. Dirt formation, or pedogenesis, is the combined effect of physical, chemical, biological, and anthropogenic processes on soil parent material resulting in the formation of soil horizons. The holiday meal, ideally, will contain no dirt.

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