The holidays are about a lot of things. The family, happiness, giving, the religion you follow, and all of that stuff. But if you are honest, you look forward to the holiday season because FOOD.
Stuffing yourself. Everybody does it. This is the absolutely best time of year to watch the cooking shows, because all of the chefs make things that your mom used to, like strudel, poppy seed things, cookies that are rolled in powdered sugar and that melt in your mouth. All of the chefs smile and with the exception of Ina Garten, none of them consume even one bite of what they make, because they are all like Giada DeLaurentis and probably anorexic.
I am not going to write about sweets, though. My favorite holiday foods are as follows:
Gravy. Hot, rich, thick. Drown mashed potatoes and stuffing with it. Those people who think all you need is a decorative drizzle of gravy over food are terrible people. There should be enough gravy on your plate not only to grace the potatoes and stuffing, but also to be there for dunking your dinner rolls.
Roasted potatoes. These are even better than mashed, in my opinion. But here’s the thing: to make them, you need a big honking standing rib roast or pork loin, to give off enough fat while roasting. Near the end of the roasting time, you siphon off some of that fat and put it in a shallow pan, roll the potatoes in it, and roast along side the meat, opening the oven to baste them with the fat until they are floury on the inside and crackly crisp on the outside. You can have them with gravy, too. You can. I can’t, because I haven’t eaten meat (other than the feathered variety) for over thirty years. The memory of these delectible things has never left me.
Stuffing. Sage, onions, celery, and all of that delicious bread. Parsley. Must be eaten with a liberal dousing of gravy.
Hot turkey sandwiches. Must be served with very good quality soft bread underneath. Mashed potatoes on the side, with a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce. Stuffing if you have any left. Float it in gravy.
Cold turkey sandwiches. On toast–use that really good artisan bread. Not toasted? Then back to the soft stuff–pillowy, white, junk bread. Lots of mayo. Lettuce. A swish of cranberry sauce. Salt and pepper. Groovy potato chips on the side. A sweet gherkin. Cold milk.
Toast for breakfast. Raisin bread. Tons of butter. A latte on the side. Four pieces. It’s the holidays.
Croissants. Flaky and buttery. Put lots of butter on, and then some raspberry jam that your neighbor makes and sends you every year. Coffee with whipping cream. I can eat three of these; they go down like air.
I dream of all of these things. If I were to have them all, I would probably be dead of coronary disease by New Year’s. But I like to fantasize about which of the list I will have this year.
I can tell you this: gravy will be involved.