Last year’s Fast Horse Thanksgiving potluck.
By the time this post is public, we’ll be just a couple hours away from the annual Fast Horse Thanksgiving potluck. Thanks to the collective efforts of the agency, we’ll have three times as much food as we need and, undoubtedly, this afternoon will be decidedly less productive than this morning. Rumor has it there will even be butter pie. I like to think of it as the start of one of the great winter traditions: the holiday eating season.
For most people the period spanning the end of November and all of December is marked by, well, significantly more eating than other times of the year. It’s like six months of gluttony packed into just five weeks. Holiday parties, family gatherings, the never-ending trays of cookies and candies that seem to appear EVERYWHERE, and of course the holiday meals themselves. It’s the one time of year that it’s okay to drink liquid ice cream (i.e., egg nog) when you’re not sitting at home with the shades drawn. It’s also the time of year I wish elastic-waistband pants were a little more publicly acceptable.
A lot of people struggle with this part of the holiday season for exactly this reason. And I get it. Sometimes January rolls around and you wonder how you made it through. Nonetheless, eating is one of my favorite activities and I really look forward to the holiday seasons.
So, here’s a run-down of a few of the holiday food traditions from my family that I’m really looking forward to. The list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but these are some of my favorites.
- On Thanksgiving, my extended family gets together to eat not one, but two full meals. I have no idea when or why this tradition started. We eat the first giant, full meal (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes . . . everything) at 1 p.m., and then all food is brought out again as leftovers at 5 p.m. for a second meal. Why would you wait until the next day? It took me a while to learn that most families don’t do this. But just think of the opportunities this provides for extra pie consumption. It’s amazing.
- My sister and I decided to replace any semblance of a traditional Christmas meal with relatively elaborate themed meals from various parts of the world. Last year was a low-country seafood boil. The year before we made ramen entirely from scratch (every single thing we ate came from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbooks). The year before that was a giant Oaxacan feast. The cooking usually takes 2-3 days, which is more than half the fun. This year: Italy’s Feast of the Seven Fishes.
- I’ve only been in on this one for a few years now, but Christmas Eve with my wife’s family means Swedish potato sausage and, among other things, some type of remarkably delicious Jello salad thing. I know what you’re thinking. It’s Jello. But you have to trust me here, this stuff’s amazing. Seconds and thirds are a must. The potato sausage is damned good, too.
- On the Sunday before Christmas, my wife’s family comes to our house to make a ridiculous number of cookies and other holiday snacks. Almost every flat surface in our house is covered by the end of the day. My job typically is taster and “the person who runs to the store a bunch of times to get missing ingredients.” Not a bad way to spend a day.
Off to the potluck!