A few of my favourite things

Written by Chic Country Life

Loving the rural life. Living close to nature with the family and my motorcycle on the Manitoba Prairie.

December 11, 2014

A few of my favourite things

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, spiced eggnog, mulled wine, the earthy robust flavour of apple cider, persimmons and prickly pears, these are a few of my favourite things. Foods and drinks that bring joy to the season and warmth to the soul, reminders of Christmases past and new memories to be made.

Everyone has holiday favourites that have turned into tradition. Old recipes passed on so long they have been ingrained in our celebrations for as long as we can remember. For me, my favourite meal of the year has always been our traditional 13 dish, meatless Italian Christmas Eve dinner – dried salted cod, or bacala, deep-fried or cooked with tomato sauce, anchovy pasta, breaded, fried cauliflower and broccoli, rappini, fresh anise root, escarole salad with olive oil and homemade vinegar. Homemade scalletta brushed with sweet egg icing and flavoured with Anise liqueur, panettone and torrone served with homemade wine and sambuca, followed with roasted chestnuts and fresh mixed nuts.

I am all about tradition! I remember the years we spent at my godparent’s house on Elgin every Christmas eve. How the tiny house would be bursting at the seams, my uncle pulling out the guitar, family singing, eating, laughing, talking and just being together. I miss those days. Our families have grown exponentially and we would need a hall to have us all together every Christmas Eve. We’ve all moved on and developed our own traditions with our own families and, while I love the new ones I still long for the old ones. A chance for my children to see what Christmas was all about, the entire family together celebrating Christmas Eve, going to midnight mass and then rushing home into our beds.

I have been blessed with a return to our traditional celebration every other year with one of my aunts, my cousins, my family and my parents. It’s something I have had to wait two years to look forward to. Sadly, this year it has ended as well. My parents and my aunt are getting on and this isn’t exactly an easy menu to prepare. It takes days to soak the fish, bake, and all day over the stove to prepare. While some of us are willing to pitch in, the reality is we have to work and don’t have the time to spend preparing the lavish meal.

And so, the tradition is changing again as the family ages and grows. Since these are my favourite foods and traditions I am looking forward to carrying them forward in my home this year. I hate to see traditions die; they are like a little part of us dying inside. We make room for new ones or adapt, but like the loved ones we’ve lost and remember over the holidays, they move on to live only in our hearts and memories. Years pass and memories fade, ready to disappear if we let them.

Nostalgia can bring you down and that is not what I mean to do. Rather I want to celebrate remembering and carrying on. Building on the old to create something new for the eager young faces of our children; traditions that they will look back on with the same fondness that I do, and will. This lightens my heart.

Merry Christmas, Buon Natale, Happy Chanukah, whatever you celebrate, I wish you the best

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