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Christmas without the Carcass; Social Ramifications | The Whole Woman Village Library

Christmas without the Carcass; Social Ramifications

by admin on December 28, 2011

Hello, Ladies (and maybe a few gents)!

I hope you had a good holiday. Our household is a little pan-religious, so we’ve had a very busy week. First came the Hanukkah party as a nod to our roommate’s Cashew upbringing and recent foray into Judaism. A Cashew is someone of  Catholic and Jewish heritage, and describes parts of my family as well. It was a great time full of Latkes and plenty of wine. One guest even brought his own moonshine.

 

Is it any wonder that our holidays are confused as well? “Now, Johnny, what did I tell you about eating pork, eh?”

 

The Christians however, they love their holiday meat. Something about the sacrificial lamb and the fisherman embeds it into our culture and food personalities. I mentioned in an earlier post what Christmas was like with a Polish grandmother, so that was my cultural recollection of what holiday food was. The mixing of meats to the extreme. I personally never liked ham, so it wasn’t so hard to give it up this year. (Something about the smell of ham throws me off. No matter how much brown sugar, butter or pineapple you pile on it, I just could never do it.”What, Amy, no ham for you this year?” “No, Auntie, sorry, I don’t like it. It looks great, though.”) But smells like salted carcass.

 

http://ciee.typepad.com/.a/6a010536fa9ded970b0153940b8263970b-800wi

“I’ll take a side of ham with my impending heart-attack, please.”

 

I have a very good friend, Ed, that is basically family in New Mexico, and since my fiancee, Ben, and I don’t have family here to celebrate with, we had him and his fiancee over for Christmas eve. Months ago when I first told him about this project and my new change in lifestyle he looked at me like the South Side Chicagoan that he is and said, “Uh-uh, girl. You ain’t no vegetarian. I know you. Do you know where we’re from?” That was the night I cooked a  beautiful roasted vegetable meal with 3 kinds of squash, 4 potato varieties, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga and onion, topped it with olive oil, garlic, and a fresh sprig of rosemary and he looked at me like a prisoner denied parole. He kept opening the oven looking for a turkey to magically appear. We had fresh bread and hummus with feta and goat cheese crumbles, and he was appreciative and complemented me, but I was laughing to myself because I could see the meat-hunger in his eyes. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a cheeseburger on the way home.

This Christmas Eve when Ed came over, I had a holiday food block. This is the first holiday where I had to do the cooking and a non-related person had to eat it. What kind of holiday meal do I make without a 25 lb. bird in the center of it? I thought about Tofurkey, and then just saw Ed’s eyes in my head looking at me with desperation and disbelief. My solution to a vegetarian Christmas meal, a meal far outside my cultural DNA? An un-meal.

I believe the fancy people out there would call it heavy h’ourdurves, but to me it was the simplest way to fill my table with a bunch of unrelated items so no one would notice the lack of meat. I made sushi, because I’ve found over the last month that it is the easiest thing in the world to make, and I will never spend 15 dollars a roll at a restaurant ever again. I made a quiche with shallots, broccoli, fresh artichokes, onion, local cheese and mushrooms. I did pita slices with basil and roasted red pepper pestos, goat cheese, and other spreadable delights. I even got soy eggnog and it was delish. Add sparkling cider, champagne, dates and nuts in bowls to fill in the gaps and wha-la there you have a Christmas feast with no carcass.

A sampling of our Christmas conversation:

“Wow, Amy this looks really good.”

“Man, Amy this is great.”

Gee, thanks, guys. Guess what else? It’s all vegetarian.

Ed takes a deep breath and says, “I figured.”

Don’t worry about Ed. He made it through. He even had seconds of the quiche.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Surviving60 December 28, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Love the post, Amy, and the meat counter pic is priceless.

Louise December 30, 2011 at 12:06 am

Christmas food for us is about traditional Christmas food, dead animals included.

It was a bit ‘seat of the pants’ this year because we were camping in a caravan park (which is a civilised way of living in a tent, cheek by jowl with mining industry people and tradies from the Goldfields, and their inevitable convoys of big, new, flash 4WD’s, noisy dirt bikes and extra large juggernaut type caravans. We were tucked away in a corner of the park with our 35 year old tent and Engel, a home made barbecue and a camp oven, plus a few other mod cons.

Our daughter has an almost finished new home about 15 miles away. Finishing the internal painting in between fishing and reading was the price we paid for dinner at her place. She was so wanting to have us all for Christmas at her new home, which we did!

DD fattened and killed a goose herself and roasted it in her shiny new oven.

Her home pickled pork was a lesson in how not to pickle pork, so that was an interesting foray into how not to give your family food poisoning. The dogs thought it was a smashing treat, and all lived to tell the tale! Never mind. Her employer gave her a ham, so nothing was lost, except a leg of pork that had been unexpectedly discovered in the deep freezer.

All this was served with roasted vegetables and DS1 brought salad greens and herbs from his garden, six hours’ drive away.

I made a Christmas pudding in a cloth from a traditional family recipe, a few days before we went, and it hung in our tent drying for 10 days. Yes, we banged our heads on it every time we walked in. It eventually grew mould on the cloth and had emergency surgery for a new cloth a few days before Christmas. The mould did not get into the pudding, only the top of the flour paste skin covering it, so some new flour paste patched the bits that were removed. Into the deep freeze for good measure for the last few days. It heated up a treat on Christmas Day with cream and brandy custard. Some lessons learned about drying puddings.

I had also made some fruit mince pies and Stained Glass Window Cakes before we left, and more fruit mince pies were made amid the painting.

All downed with beautiful Australian bubbly, with port to finish.

I just love cooking from scratch, and now realise how much we have lost in our ability to do just this, and cope without refrigeration. Cookery books rarely have post boiling care for puddings, but these notes will now be added to my recipe.

Many years ago I made a cooking notebook, an indexed Minute book that has all my favourite recipes, written out, torn out of newspapers, scibbled on scraps of paper , or cut off cardboard packets and plastic bags, and glued in, in this one book, indexed in the front, with other recipes cross-referenced in my other cookbooks, and where I can find each of them. (That’s what happens when a library person is let loose on a feral recipe collection )

I hope my kids will digitise it and share it with each other when I am gone. My Mum had so many of my favourite childhood foods in her head, and she could never remember the recipes when I asked her (cunning old vixen! 😉 )

Preparing and eating food is so much a part of families.

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