Today I am taking down my Christmas decorations…A sad moment, but happy because it is the feast of the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Three Wise Men.
And I always wonder, as I pack up all these well loved ornaments, what will happen in our lives between now and next Christmas. I try to anchor myself here in the present moment, but still have this wondering curiosity about the future. Don’t you?
Emily and Ingmar and their family had a meal of cheese fondue on Christmas Eve, roasted goose with red cabbage and a napkin dumpling for Christmas dinner, and Raclette on New Year’s Eve and I said I would tell you more about them, so here is an attempt. A rather superficial attempt, but one which may point you in the right direction if you wish to try any of this yourself.
Fondue which comes in many guises, is perhaps most commonly cheese fondue and there is at least one recipe which goes back to the late 1600s. I think it comes in and out of fashion. It was in style when Paul and I married in 1972 and we received, as did most of our friends, a fondue set as one of our wedding gifts, a pot in which to heat the cheese mixture set over a holder for sterno as a heat source, with six long handled forks for people to use to dip whatever they wish to coat with the simmering cheese. This can be bread, potatoes, and many other things.
I’ve also had, in Germany, meat fondues in which small pieces of meat are cooked either in hot oil or hot broth, like a sort of Mongolian hot pot. And I’ve heard of chocolate fondue, but never had it.
This sort of meal, along with raclette, is arranged so that people can eat in a very leisurely manner while talking together, and a fondue supper can last hours!
Raclette is probably still less well known in this country. It also needs some equipment, a two layered heated apparatus for melting cheese on the lower level, on little wedge shaped spatulas, and an upper leveL for cooking other things. You scrape melted cheese onto whatever other food you want to eat with it…I think it began in Switzerland, and if you are interested in raclette or fondue you can Google them, and also look them up on amazon.com. They are both lots of fun with a group of people who enjoy being together.
I’ve had more meals of fondue and raclette in Germany than in the US. I think it is more popular there for parties.
Some people eat special meals or special desserts (cakes with lucky charms in them) for the feast of the three kings, but we don’t, even though my husband and all his nine brothers and sisters had Maria for their first “middle name” (not an unusual custom among Catholics in some European countries) and Baldizsár for the second (except his fourth sister Maria herself who was not, luckily, named Maria Maria.) Baldizsár is the Hungarian for Balthazar, the third of the three kings.
This meal which Ingmar makes for Christmas is a tradition in his family. Roast goose is wonderful, though there is less meat on it than I first imagined. (I had tried it once, myself, before I ever knew Ingmar, and was not happy with my results!) Ingmar can roast goose superlatively, without it being greasy, and with all its special flavor.
Braised red cabbage is something everyone in my family loves! It’s easy to make and there are many recipes… And the napkin dumpling, which is a version of a bread dumpling – semmel knoedel – which is tied in a napkin and cooked in boiling water and then sliced and eaten with goose gravy over it is a dream. I still don’t have Ingmar’s recipe. There are several online, but I bet his recipe makes a better dumpling! It is, in my imagining, like the “ball” that is talked of by Miss Matty’s old beau in Cranford, when he is describing the meals of his childhood. No broth, no ball, no ball, no meat…..
And now, I am quite hungry!