I can always tell when the holidays are approaching by looking in the mirror. My cheeks get a little fuller, my pants get a little tighter, and my normally clear complexion begins to show the stigmata of over-indulgence. I think of them as chocolate and gravy bumps. There is one on my forehead between my eyes this morning–a last Thanksgiving leftover–sort of the opposite of a mystical “third eye.”
But enough of my body dysmorphia. It’s not like I have an exercise plan or a New Year’s resolution to do anything about the situation. I’m a happy eater; none of your holiday fare is safe in my presence. I love it all, the cookies, the pies, the candy, the nuts, the steaming roasts and the gravy.
Some of my very favorites have been worked out over the years to become family traditions. For years Christmas Eve dinner called for breaded chicken cutlets, “Straw and Hay”–that’s a mix of green and white fettuccine tossed with butter, olive oil and toasted garlic. (I could eat a mangerfull.) A token amount of steamed broccoli on the side. Maybe a scoop of candy cane ice cream for dessert.
Breakfast on Christmas morning: French toast made using eggnog. Three–no four–strips of bacon (plus the one I sneaked during cooking). Coffee made with a curl of cinnamon bark crumbled into the grind.
And Christmas dinner? Cubano-style: pork tenderloin rubbed with garlic and oregano, wet-roasted and basted with red wine and Seville orange juice, served with piles of black beans and rice. And a gravy boat full of mojo criollo generously applied to everything. Mojo–for those not in the know–is thinly sliced onion and a rude amount of garlic soaked in citrus juice and salt, then flash cooked in an insane amount of olive oil. Dessert can be more Americano, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, or apple pie with ice cream. It’s all good.
If I haven’t made you hungry, check your pulse. Or better yet, stimulate my salivary glands with your own traditional holiday fare in a comment below.