Holiday Food Alphabet

Think for a moment. What would the holiday season be without food and drink? Regardless of whether or what you celebrate, this time of year is "Eat, drink and be merry" to the max. It's the way of life, the rule of the thumb, the modus operandi of the Western world. In fact, I would argue that comestibles are THE glue that keeps us together as a civilization for the entire month of December.

WHAT we eat and drink:
Special treats that we tend to stay away from the rest of the year. Symbols of the good life, such as chocolate truffles, caviar, sparkling wine, eggnog, roast beast.
Special treats tied to culture, history and holiday-specific traditions -- gingerbread houses, candy canes, Hanukkah gelt, buche de noel, glogg, wassail, fruitcake.

HOW we eat and drink: In addition to the lineup of nosh-driven cocktail parties, open houses and holiday galas, there are countless ways people socialize at this time of year, all of which revolve around food and drink. For starters, there's the cookie exchange, candy making, sipping egg nog by someone's fireplace, hot cocoa after ice skating.

And then of course, there are the food-and-drink-centric gifts that we both give and receive -- a bottle of booze, homemade biscotti, a cookbook, kitchen gadgets and electronics, edible stocking stuffers, a crate of oranges, coffee gift cards...the list never ends.

If we took all of this away, the holidays would be utterly flavorless. (Well, we'd still have cat nip. And snow flakes, weather permitting.)

My point is, it's not about the latest PlayStation; the holidays are all about the food, shared with another.

Below, an A-Z list of how food and drink weaves into the holidays. You'll find links to gift ideas, recipes and tasty ways to get into the spirit. Note: The list will be published in two parts; check tomorrow's blog space for the balanced of the holiday alphabet.

And please, weigh in with your own holiday food alphabet.

A Aglianico, a big juicy red from southern Italy

B Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, benne crackers to honor Kwanzaa

C Cookie Tins from the Container Store, Caviar or flavored whitefish roe from Tsar Nicoulai, Chocolate: Truffles, Bars, Bark, any incarnation will do

D Dragonfly chopstick rests ($3 each) at Go Mama Go (also spotted at Pangea Market), DVD collection of The French Chef With Julia Child

E Eggnog and a respectable soy alternative, entertaining tips

F food mill, Volunteer at Food and Friends at Christmas or at New Year's, French press coffee maker

G Gingerbread house building party, Gifts from the Gulf

H Hoppin' John to ring in the New Year on an auspicious note, holiday party fare, "Holiday Baking," by Sara Perry, for recipes that cover the gamut of this multicultural, multi-faith season

I Indian cooking class taught by kitchen minx Pritha Mehra, ice cream maker, immersion blender

J Madhur Jaffrey's memoir, "Climbing the Mango Trees," jamon Serrano

K Kitchen Towel 2007 Calendar by designer Lotta Jansdotter (spotted these at Table Top in Dupont Circle), "The Kitchen Diaries," by Nigel Slater

L Lollipops, latkes, anything from Le Creuset

M Mortar and pestle, mezzaluna, Mama Lil's jarred peppers.

N-Z to come tomorrow...

By Kim ODonnel |  December 12, 2006; 11:29 AM ET Winter Holidays
Previous: Cafreal for a Cold | Next: Holiday A-Z, Part 2


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H - honey-baked ham; hot chocolate with marshmallows;
T - tangerines; tinsel on the tree;
S - sugar cookies; secret hiding places to store gifts until you can wrap them; scent of pine; silence after a snowfall;
A - angel on top of the tree
B - baking -- day-long cookie baking sessions; books given as gifts;
W - spiced warm wine (Linganore Winecellars in Mt. Airy, MD has a holiday red which is served warm and it's delicious); wreaths on the door;
C - cards from old friends who only keep in touch once a year; candles at the windows; crow's feet greenery found in the woods and made into wreaths; chocolate-covered cherries; carols;
F - fruitcake; flannel pajamas from Grandma; French toast for Christmas breakfast; first magical snowfall of the winter.

That's all I can think of right now....
nearly time to go home.

Posted by: Bored at Work: | December 12, 2006 4:34 PM

cookie tins from Joann's Fabrics are far less expensive and quite pretty. I mail about 70 tins of cookies and fudge a year (USPS priority mail and I are good buddies). Joann's tins are 40% off the week before Thanksgiving, 50% the day after if any are left, usually with a $ off coupon in the mail if you sign up. Day after Christmas is usually good, too. Super hard to find tins around here although Seattle was harder.

Posted by: secretfun | December 18, 2006 10:24 PM

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