December 24

Christmas Eve. Moon. Candy Canes. Milk Creek. Pulla. New Orleans Souls. Adam. Eve. The First Jesuit. Fat Man. Irish Toast!

Days Until. . .

New Year's Eve: 6.

Looking Up

Today in 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 arrived at the moon, made ten orbits of it, and headed home. Frank Borman, one of the spacemen, transmitted a wish for peace on earth on that Christmas Eve. I heard his words on the radio, went out to look at the moon, and found the sight very peaceful, indeed.

Today's Flavor

This is National Candy Cane Day. Have you found them this year? We had an unusually hard time locating the classic inverted-J shaped candy canes, the kind about as big around as a fat pencil, flavored with peppermint, and with one large red stripe and three thin ones. All of those qualities are symbolic (the "J" for Jesus, the stripes for the Trinity, etc.). However, we just like to have them around and on the Christmas tree for ready enjoyment. The expansion of variety in candy canes has brought some very unusual colors and flavors to the medium, and some of them are good. But there's nothing like the traditional.

Deft Dining Rule #25:

The food and service in restaurants on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be at best half as good as it would be on a normal day, and possibly very irritating and depressing if you can't go with the flow and enjoy it for what it is.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Lamington is a rural crossroads in north central New Jersey, forty-three miles west of Times Square in New York City. Its name comes from a Native American word for "place within the hills." This describes it well. The farm fields cover wide patches of flat land. The highway and the river--a tributary of the Raritan River--bear the same name as the town. Over a hundred spellings of the name have been recorded over the centuries. The first European permanence came with the establishment of a Presbyterian church in 1740. The nearest restaurant is Houndstooth, a mile and a half away in Oldwick. I wonder if the residents of Lamington know of the coconut-covered little cakes of the same name, made by young people at Christmas parties in Australia.

Edible Dictionary

turtledove, n.--Known more from references to it in the Bible, folklore, and the Twelve Days of Christmas, a turtledove is a smaller member of the pigeon family. It gets its name from the black-on-light brown pattern on its wings, which does resemble that of a turtle's shell. It's an Old World bird, but it has a very close relative in the common mourning dove here in America. Its fame comes from its late migratory pattern (when the turtledoves show up, spring really has arrived) and from its habit of forming lifelong couples. Like other doves, it has long been hunted for food. It would take two of them to make an entree, but otherwise they resemble squabs, to which they are most closely related among commonly-eaten birds. Their meat is dark, and when cooked gently stays red, resembling beef.

Music To Eat Creole Gumbo By

Today is the birthday of two major players in the early days of New Orleans R&B. Dave Bartholomew was born today in 1920. His band and arrangements backed up most of Fats Domino's recordings. . . And in 1924 on this date, Lee Dorsey entered the scene. His big hit was "Working In A Coal Mine," but he was a fixture at the Jazz Festival and in local clubs for a long time.

The Saints

Today is the feast day of Adam and Eve, according the the Bible the first and second humans respectively. They were also the first to learn that it pays to be discriminating about what one eats. . . It is also the birthday, in 1491, of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. If it weren't for the Jesuits, it's unlikely you would be reading these words of mine.

Annals Of Overeating

Today in 1991, Walter Hudson died. He weighed over a thousand pounds. Note to self: forget Walter Hudson for now, but remember him December 26.

Food Namesakes

British poet George Crabbe lived his first stanza today in 1754. . . Captain James Cook landed on Christmas Island, the world's largest atoll, right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was uninhabited, but he found large stone statues of the head of Santa Claus on the beach. (Am I confusing this with Easter Island?). . . Professional wrestler Chris Hero was given a half-nelson by an obstetrician today in 1979. Eat a poor boy sandwich in his honor.

Words To Eat By

"Cookery is an old art, as it goes back to Adam."--Louis, Marquis de Cussy, chef to Napoleon and cookbook author.
"Ever since Eve started it all by offering Adam the apple, woman’s punishment has been to supply a man with food then suffer the consequences when it disagrees with him."--Helen Rowland, American writer and humorist. "Give books for Christmas. They're never fattening."--Lenore Hershey.

Words To Drink By

"Holly and ivy hanging up
And something wet in every cup.
--Irish Christmas toast.