“My grandfather worked in the coal mines so he brought home several containers of shucked oysters from the company store,” says vafarmwife. “Ate fried oysters on Christmas day. Then saved some oysters back for oyster stew a couple of days after Christmas.”

“I grew up in a Jewish home, but since we invariably spent the holiday vacation with my Gramma and Grampa in MN and she was such a grand cook, we had some holiday-centric foods and customs,” says mamachef. “One was cheese dreams, which were like mini-blintzes that she served with strawberry or blueberry/cinnamon compote that she ‘put up.’ This was a breakfast food, filled with lightly sweetened pot cheese; accompanied by a lox platter and the other usual suspects; bagels, capers, onions, cream cheese or vegetable cheese schmears, tomatoes.”

Sra. Swanky remembers the Christmas food of her Italian family in the Bronx. “We’d start off with huge antipasto platters: capicola, provolone, olives, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, homemade stuffed peppers, and my Grandfather’s favorite—baccala salad,” she says. “Then we’d feast on stuffed shrimp, butter-drenched lobster tail, more baccala, scungili, mussels in olive oil and garlic broth—the spread was absolutely incredible,” says Sra. Swanky. “Then we’d sit back and Grandpa would break out his accordion and sing Christmas carols as the desserts were put out. As we’d scarf down dessert—jam-filled thumbprint cookies, almond cake, brandy-soaked fruitcake, and sneak a few sips of espresso with Sambuca (a rite of passage!).”

“Our Christmas meal was spread out over the entire day, starting with a marzipan stollen and coffee or cocoa in the morning after presents were opened,” says Chefpaulo. “Around 1:00, we had a crock of mom’s French onion soup. Parmesan spinach balls and crab claws with mustard cream sauce emerged around 3:00. By six, the 24-pound bird was ready for tenting and carving. Half past six was the traditional hour of serving turkey, filling, gravy, white potato and sweet potato casseroles, homemade cranberry/orange relish, Cope’s corn, petit peas with pearl onions, sweet cabbage slaw, crescent rolls with parsley butter, and a relish tray dominated by black olives and gherkins. Add Champagne to the tryptophan and then add pecan pie, apple pie, and Christmas cookies around 9:00 and it’s amazing that anyone was still awake.”

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