It only recently hit me that Christmas – the second biggest culinary holiday – is this week. Maybe it’s the sporadic weather (Seoul likes to be warm for three days, then blistering cold for four, and then back up to a crisp fall day). Maybe it’s the lack of corny decorations everywhere. Maybe it’s the lack of ubiquitous Christmas music. Maybe it’s because I’m not in America. Whatever it might be, it’s easy to forget that this Saturday is, in fact, Christmas.
Just because I forgot about the holiday for a week or two, doesn’t mean I’ve not planned something delicious. This past week, my charge was to come up with a menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. See, back at home, both meals are incredibly important. Family and friends all gather together on the Eve to listen to good stories of the year that past, drink red wine from glasses that fit perfectly into your palm, and eat more than your fill. We would all sit down at two large tables – one for the adults, and one for the kids – where we would have name cards hand painted by a dear family member, and enjoy quips and affirmations and funny stories poorly told. Then, when the moon was nice and high, and Santa had surely been around to our house, we’d open just one present, in anticipation of the next day.
After a good night’s sleep, we’d get up and mull around the house, saying cheers of holiday spirit, drinking cup after cup of warm, creamy coffee waiting for everyone to gather again. We’d start to prepare some French Toast, or omelets and fresh tomatoes sprinkled with salt, coupled with bacon or sausage. Maybe mom would insist on making waffles for everyone, and the muffins would be coming out of the oven soon. Someone would want more brunch, and break out the hummus to drown out a dense but fluffy bagel from College Town Bagels, just in town. Food was our main priority of the morning. It was where we gathered and enjoyed and relaxed.
Afterwards it was stockings, and presents passed slowly and we took turns playing Santa Claus with a red stocking hat. We’d try to surprise each other with gifts and laugh as they opened up that one prank gift.
Now that may not happen exactly as that this year, but some delicious plans are in the oven, or refrigerator. For now, I’ll just leave everyone in anticipation of what is wrapped up, waiting for everyone to see.
Here’s a hint for my next post: