Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Foods’


TimesOnline has posted a food quiz quite ornamental to ascertain whether your foodie knowledge is all shining and bright.

The Christmas Food Quiz includes some good questions:

5. Who invented the notion of a frothing soup in the manner of a cappuccino?

a Alain Chapel

b Gordon Ramsay

c Ferran Adria
6. Which chef created a Xmas menu last year where dishes included Babe in a Manger and Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

7. Which chef quipped “the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star”

a Apicus

b Brillat Savarin

c Carĕme
8. What game was originally played with champagne corks rather than balls?

a Table tennis

b Squash

c Billiards

It’s worth taking a gander at (to see if they can roast your goose or not).


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I can not decide what to serve on Christmas.

This is not unusual – I can never decide what to serve on Christmas.

There are reasons for that (as there are reasons for most things). (Whether those reasons are reasonable or not is yet another question but let’s set that aside for the moment).

Ballontines keep popping into my mind this year.

Being plagued by thoughts of ballontines has kept me quite busy. I’ve spent many hours looking up recipes, all the while quite productively avoiding the kitchen itself.

Larousse Gastronomique, (1961 Edition) on ballontines:

This term describes a kind of galantine which is normally served as a hot entree, but can also be served cold.
The ballontine is made of a piece of meat, fowl, game, or fish, which is boned, stuffed and rolled into the shape of a bundle.
To be precise, the term ballontine should apply only to a piece of butcher’s meat, boned, stuffed, and rolled, but it is in fact also applied to various dishes which are actually galantines.

A ballontine is not a galantine. There is a much different sense about it. There is actually something good and fine about a ballontine at its heart, whereas there is really nothing good about any galantine. Galantines are merely pride served chilled, glazed and decorated. They are ancient idiots, barking up the tree of pomposity.

A ballontine is better. It is an ancient idiot also – but since it is served hot, it is tasty.

There is really no good reason to make either one unless you are heading out for a voyage on a steamship and want to make something that will impress the other thousand guests which will also last for a good two months while everyone nibbles on it here and there all the while admiring the skill that must! have gone into making it.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name. Making one is like sitting down to write a novel in chapters – rather than just tossing off an essay here and there.

The last time I made one I could not stand to eat any sort of meat for more than a month. The boning of the duck, the pureeing of this kind of meat filling and that kind of meat filling, the chopping of the duck livers, the decorative slicing of the other several kinds of meat, the arranging of the duck skin to cover it all just so, the roasting of the bones and the making of the stock – it warped into a sort of meaty nightmare.

Couldn’t stand the sight or taste of pistachios either, since they had been dotted here and there within the ballontine.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name.
Never fear – I will fight it with all my might.

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Clam dip springs eternal.

This is a wonderful thing – for some people.

There was always a bowl of clam dip placed out on the sideboard with Fritos, celery, and carrot sticks at  Christmas dinner when I was a child. It was an awesome thing somehow, this clam dip. It was all-powerful. It stood for something  – though exactly what it stood for is impossible to precisely define.

The Fritos were part of the whole thing. I can taste the combination now as I write this, and truly how bizarre it is! Crunchy little oversalted thick curly corn chips aided and abetted in crime with whatever clam dip really is (for I believe it is somehow created by a metallurgic process similar to alchemy but with the products of the dairy cow and the ocean: sour cream and clams –  but I don’t want to linger too very long on this thought) coming together on the sideboard in an all-powerful and controlling mass of atoms gently mounded in its delicate red-and-gold poinsettia-glazed bowl .

It was powerful in taste and powerful in how people reacted to it.

I have a cousin who would have dived into the dip head-first if anyone would have allowed it.

As the announcement came to ‘come and have a snack’ he took off through the air like a marble from a slingshot. By the time we all walked in he was bent over the bowl of clam dip almost snuffling the stuff up with the Fritos as fast as the naked eye could see. The celery with its pale fluffy leaves was just there for show . . . as were the stiff little carrot sticks. Nobody ever ate them.

“Give someone else a chance,” his father would admonish him, and he’d back up six inches or so and let a few hands take a few swipes at the stuff.

I didn’t care. There was something about the clam dip that appealed to me deeply. I wanted it, badly. But each year I took one bite and felt like fleeing, anywhere, to Canada, to the deep snow outside, under the white-linened table, or even to the nearest hot dog stand which was hundreds of miles away.

I find the stuff repellent.

But clam dip is such a lovable thing! I tried, I really did. Once I even attempted a homage to clam dip – an essay all bright and bubbly, all serene and jolly, all heartwarming and devout. It wouldn’t happen. No rhetoric could stretch that far, no way no how – not from me . . . not on clam dip.

The clam dip recipe my aunt makes is an excellent one, for she is a very good cook.

And Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without clam dip (and maybe Fritos to go with it) in many homes across the land.

Clam dip. It’s got to be said.

Just don’t say it too loudly, please.

For one thing, it will scare me.

For another, I heard that my cousin (now a man well into middle-age and not usually prone to excessive behavior of any kind) actually ate the entire contents of the clam dip bowl last year. Not a drop left for anyone else.

He survived, and there are more like him everywhere.

There may be one near you.

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