Service of Changing Tastes of the Holidays

December 27th, 2022

Categories: Baking, Christmas, Holidays, Tradition

I wonder how many holiday tables groaned with atypical taste sensations this year to accommodate increasing numbers of family members and friends turning to diets ranging from vegetarian and vegan to gluten-free and foods forbidden by allergies in addition to environmental aversion to beef.

I am not a fan of substitutes simply because I don’t care for the taste.

Most traditional foods a family makes come with stories. I’ve mentioned before the thumbprint cookies we baked for Christmas ever since I can remember as did my grandmother before us I’m told. Butter is essential to my cookies—it’s no friend of vegans–as are ground almonds, a no-no for those allergic to nuts. Nevertheless I made them again this year even if I was unable to find red current jelly. [I’m using black. Doesn’t look or taste the same.]

I no longer make the bûche de noël that I first tried early in the 1980s, including the decorative meringue “mushrooms” sprinkled with cocoa. My dad was so blown away by my effort that he told us one of only two stories shared about his life in a WWII prisoner of war camp. The inmates were allowed to receive care packages. One of the men was a baker. The others gave him the cake and chocolate they’d received, and from them he crafted a Christmas log. When he presented it, the men cried. Because eggs, chocolate and sugar are involved some would pass on a slice today. My sister lives near a fabulous baker and we rely on his talents these days.

Did you add foods to your holiday table to accommodate changing tastes? Have you nodded to the traditions of others who join you through marriage or friendship? Are there stories associated with some of your favorite holiday foods?


Image by John Nisbet from Pixabay 

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10 Responses to “Service of Changing Tastes of the Holidays”

  1. lucrezia Said:

    I haven’t the faintest idea what I’d do under those circumstances, so I won’t worry unless faced with said problem. Nature intended us to be omnivores, and it must be for a reason.

  2. Martha Takayama Said:

    I love traditional holidays dishes sweet and savory even when their actual taste is not completely to my liking. I like the sense of continuity, nostalgia and comfort even when I receive fruitcakes filled with candles fruits I don’t truly enjoy. I love sugar cookies, butter cookies, decorated or not. I find the imposition of visitors and guests myriad food restrictions selfish, gauche and thoughtless. I have spent many meals simply concentrating on eating the foods I like and hoping nobody will notice my not eating those I don’t care for. I find it rude and overbearing to make your political preferences into menu demands for other hosts and hostesses. The oppressive and boring concentration on oneselfis contrary to the holiday experience.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Everything in moderation …says the woman who has been blessed by beautiful gifts of chocolate and feels compelled to taste just one more! You’d think I had a job as a candy taster.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I love a buffet. That way you can take a ton of your favorite and a bite or none of what you don’t care for and an introductory taste of an experiment and go back for more if it pleases.

  5. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook : I must hang with a boring crowd. Same holiday menu year after year. We’re either in a rut or like tradition.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    We were like that for years until we weren’t.

  7. ASK Said:

    I have no patience for people who inform a hostess of their dietary preferences, and they are not invited back. We are omnivores, as someone mentioned previously, and I refuse to bow to PC-correct diets in my own kitchen. If someone has a real health issue, I certainly will accommodate with a special dish.

  8. Eileen Dover Said:

    My family’s traditions have changed throughout the years. Sometimes just going through the motions. Our family has had marriage additions, divorce subtractions, births and deaths. I feel melancholy about the past but forge forward with hopes for the new traditions ahead. It’s a hard time of year for so many. My resolve is to think that “it’s just another Sunday”. Btw, those Christmas cookies look yummy. Best wishes Jeanne for a happy and healthy New Year 2023!

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    When my dad was diagnosed with diverticulosis a zillion years ago, he was given a very restrictive diet [which changed and became easier over years]. My mother would warn a hostess not to take offence if he didn’t eat everything. There was always enough he could eat.

    A friend, now deceased, asked me what I was making for a party, and she said she didn’t like it, could I prepare something else, and I said “no.” It was hard for me to say that, but I figured somebody would dislike whatever I ended up making….so why change my plans?

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Eileen,

    Thank you! Likewise.

    The pandemic was an eye opener in that I realized that I could enjoy my own company as I did Christmases past with a cast of thousands! I miss the people who are no longer here to celebrate but am amazed at how uncharacteristically cool I am as the celebrations take twists and turns. [P.S. I don’t need a holiday to miss loved ones.]

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