Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Food

The holidays never quite seem to be about food. I know that seems like a strange thing to say- every glossy food magazine features holiday food on the cover right now. And there’s just so much food around. Those horrible baby quiches. And the cookies. And the fruitcakes. And the sand-dry panettone's from hell. Ultimately, a great deal of it is food I don’t like all that much. I do love cookies and baked goods (the number of posts about bakeries on this blog is a little embarrassing). But… there are so, so, so many terrible baked goods floating around during the holidays. People make the recipe they’ve always made, because it tastes like the Christmas of their childhoods. And the Christmas of their childhoods may have been lovely, but frequently, the stuff kids like is one-note, sugary and dull... and so are the baked goods being presented. But the person presenting the baked goods is always so eager, and has gone to so much effort. It’s hard for me to pop someone’s bubbling excitement, so I rarely refuse or balk, although I often take the smallest amount that is courteously possible. And… meh. It’s not going to kill me to spend another twenty minutes on the treadmill, even if I do hate that damn machine (Hate.). The math in my head usually goes thusly: do I like this person enough to spend twenty minutes on the treadmill for them? Often, even when we don’t know one another all that well, the answer is yes. But once I’m on the treadmill, remembering how dull it is to jog on the damn thing, I think: really? I’m really willing to do this for that person? Can’t I find a petty reason to snub them?

Do I sound Christmas-bitter? I am, a little. It’s my classic holiday m.o.: get bitter and resentful in the lead-up, and wake up the day of as if I never felt cross or swore emphatically about all the damn errands and preparations. You can imagine how much fun this is for my husband.

But… I’m also having a really good time (antibiotics and all). I was in my son’s second grade class for a couple of hours the other day, helping 22 seven and eight-year-olds build gingerbread houses. It was fantastic. Exhausting, but really fun. My boy’s teacher put on music from their winter concert (which was, as children’s concerts always are, both sweet and unintentionally hilarious), and all of a sudden, 22 kids were spontaneously, sweetly, singing along as they worked. And, of course, getting frosting everywhere.
2nd graders are not minimalists. It’s hysterical how baroque-o-rama they all are, packing on as much decoration as is humanly possible. It’s as if inside, they’re all crazed Neopolitan church decorators of the 18th century- if that lovely austere lily can be gilded, encrusted and enameled, then, dammit, it will be. The top picture is my boy’s gingerbread house. It was more austere than some of the other creations. Seriously. The other image is of the Capella S. Severo in Naples, and I omitted the creepy shrouded Christ in there, which a triumph of sculptural mastery, easily rivaling the way Bernini showed Pluto’s finger’s digging into poor Persephone’s thigh, but… well, creepy. And that’s compared to something titled “The Rape of Persephone.”

Anyway, it’s what holiday food looks like. It’s not… food. It’s butter and sugar and lard and quite often, stuff you just don't want to eat.

Also: Christmas sweaters continue to get on my nerves. Although, as it’s been fairly well documented, my nerves are easily jangled.

4 comments:

cook eat FRET said...

bad holiday food abounds. no doubt. it's a crack up to me. but xmas is a crack up all around. i was raised jewish so i have hardly any christmas stress in my life - ever. i have a handmade burnt orange feather tree which is really an ornament delivery system and then from there i do whateva i want...

so i like christmas. i like foie gras and anything decadent and well, the entire month is an excuse to 'go there'.

hallelujah and thank you jesus...

Meg said...

I was being such a grouch (in my defense... I felt rotten, and the prospect of having to put on a happy face AND heels made me feel really cross). I think you're right (and your tree? Sounds fab), that the month is an excuse to go there, and just enjoy. Tacky? Sure. But fun.

Philly Sis said...

You are always a grouch, but when you cook us heavenly food we tend to let it slide.... And you are a very tall grouch when wearing your new 6 inch high fushia suede (I do not kid here) heels.

Meg said...

4". You're just ticked that I'm taller than you when I elbow you.