Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Dinners

Ah, the uber-traditional spread at Christmas; turkey and dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, mashed potatoes, various and sundry salads, and maybe some ham thrown in for good measure. Like the Whos in Whoville, the roast beast is the centerpiece of the vision of the proper Christmas dinner.

Well, if you know anything about the bunch I run with, you'll catch on that it isn't quite what we ate this most recent holiday celebration(s). It's not that we eschew the "normal" reveries on holidays, it's just that we aren't necessarily bound to the traditional fare.

At my parents' house, our Christmas Eve celebration was crowned with the preparation of the Christmas Flounder. Four of them, to be precise. One was slathered with basil pesto, while the others were adorned more simply in lemon and inordinant amounts of real butter. My sister had hauled in two of the four on her first fishing trip in a number of years (I'll tell you the approximate number later). There was some of the traditional food available as well, lest you think we are total barbarians. Cole slaw and mash taters and green bean casserole (with french fried onions from Joe's BBQ crushed on top), fruit salad and the like.

We also didn't sit down as one and pass the beans pass the slaw pass the punch pass the cheesecake. Comestibles were in the kitchen/dining room and everbody milled past and grabbed what they wanted of homemade pickles, homemade salsa, stuffed celery, olives, pickled okra and other goodies. For afters, there was a cheesecake, cherry dump cake, various cookies and stuffed dates. If I have forgotten any aspects of the spread, the originators must forgive my memory lapse. I blame it on the deliciosity of the food.

Christmas Day Lunch was at my sister-in-law's house, for yet chapter two of a not-quite-what-you'd-expect celebratory feast. There were reprises of some of what had been offered (and well-recieved) dishes from the Thanksgiving menu (traditional); home-grown macaroni and cheese, "good potatoes", cole slaw and peach and apple pies, fantasy fudge and cookies . That is about where the similarities ended. Uncle Russell was presiding over two pits; one with hot doggies, regular and plump-when-you-cook-em's, the other bore large, juicy cheeseburgers. When the meats came off the grills, we rushed inside, blessed the food and dug in like a pack of dingoes. My choice was a double-meat cheeseburger, with buttercrunch lettuce, tomato and ketchup. I don't know what everybody else piled on their plates, nor do I care. Everyone ate heartily and if you looked from the chin up, amazingly, everybody appeared to be eating what the rest of the country was eating, namely Christmas turkey and dressing.

We all ate too much and enjoyed the food and company just as much as any of the more time-honored dishes that one would think. Both unconventional feasts were a success by any standard.

Closer to the expected dinner, Wedesday when my Aunt and Uncle came in from Wimberley, was the smoked turkey that my Dad prepared. The main difference was that the meal was buffet serve yourself style. Bread for turkey sandwiches and the rest as the night before, if you want to eat, eat, where you want to perch, go ahead. Again, there were plenty of choices to consume, with some college students there to clean up the leftover food, just in case.

As traditionalists at the holiday season, we really stink. Sure, we wrap presents and hang lights on our multi-year trees, but when it comes to food, a mercurial and unpredictable bunch we are. It's not like we go to McDonald's for a couple of family packs of chicken nuggets. We're just very flexible with regard to holiday ceremonial dinners.

And that's the way I like it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

I have gotten several visits by people googling "Christmas Flounder">. Please click the link to see where this allegedly comes from. Apparently North Carolina is a hotbed of Yuletide Floundering, historically.


Howlsatmoon said...

Hamburgers an Sea Bass next year at the Wollf's Lair.

Sounds like one halascious spread.
Didja 'member the cheese balls?

Happy New year. (I been invited to a gussy up party).....


aA said...

No cheezeballs! At the second feast, we only had some brie and a chipotle mozerella (i think tha's what it were).

Hope you enjoy your "dress up party"

Happy Gnu Year!

Rob V. said...

One comment & 1 question -- I'll have a big chunk of that "fantasy fude" (whatever that is). Also, what in the world is "home-grown macaroni and cheese?" How long does it take to grow the stuff?

aA said...

FUDGE...that's what I meant to type...and it's fixed. Home-grown macaroni is a late summer crop, harvested in late November.

The seeds can be orderd from a catalog, but they'll stonewall you for awhile, since they're mostly secret.

Desiree S. said...

Love the floundermas tree... It adds a festive flare to the page! lol.
<3 your favorite kid,