Monday, December 16, 2013

Road Food: Sometimes Tradition Ain’t All That

From 100 things NOT to do for Christmas, this had to be my favorite . . .

DO NOT make "old family recipes" for christmas dinner
The key word there is "family." As in only family, and no one else. Old family recipes tend to be dishes that the immediate family has been exposed to for generations, and as a result, they have developed a taste for something that no human should enjoy.  I have seen people serve foods anywhere from pickled carrots dipped in raspberry sauce to mashed potatoes mixed with spinach and spam. These foods are not natural! Nobody likes them (although they are likely to pretend to), so just stick to the regular turkey dinner.

When I shared this yesterday at church, one little girl actually said yum about the idea of pickled carrots with raspberry sauce (which I can scarcely say out loud without wincing) – turns out she absolutely loves anything pickled.  And there were a few who thought spam in the potatoes might not be that bad.

But we were all pretty much agreed that fruit cake has to be the worst.*

What are the worst family recipes at your table?

For me, it has to be candied sweet potatoes or yams – that ooey-gooey mess of a concoction that has sweet potatoes covered with brown sugar and butter and marshmellows . . . makes me shiver in disgust just to think about it.  But that’s just me.

When it comes to traditional holiday food, I keep wondering where the traditions come from, especially for Christmas.  There really isn’t any theological significance to candied sweet potatoes.  I could make some up, but what would be the point?

That got me to wondering what Jesus’ family ate for Jesus’ birthday?  Did they base it on what they ate along the way to Bethlehem?  After all, traditions have to start somewhere and they’re often a reenactment of something from a meaningful time in the history of our tribe.

So I wonder what Jesus’ family had to eat during that trek?

They were on the road and had to stay in a barn.  They probably ate their version of McDonald’s (if they stopped along the way to eat) or snacks (what we bring with us – in my case, a candy bar and some cheetohs or bbq potato chips).

I wonder whether Jesus’ family served him their version of road food for his birthday ever after.  I don’t know about Jesus, but I’d hate to be stuck with a cheetohs and Hershey bar birthday just because my mom happened to be eating them when I was born.

Sometimes traditions make sense.  Sometimes they don’t.

Which leaves me wondering which ones in my own life to keep and which to let go of.

In some parts of the
world, this is
considered to be food.
For sure, you can spare me the fruit cake and definitely take the leftover candied yams with you if you don’t want them to go to waste.  Throwing away those left overs is part of my tradition too.

*I started to say ‘we Americans’, but turns out fruitcake isn’t restricted to Great Britain – Canadians like them some fruitcake too and there’s even one site that offers fifteen different ways to make fruitcake.  Canadian Living  Why anyone would come up with even one way to make this atrocious brick of a thing, we simply cannot understand.  Maybe that’s the difference when you get down to it between breaking free from the motherland by revolution or staying a commonwealth – and here, we thought it was all about the tea.  (To my Scots friends – you know I’m kidding, right?  Well, maybe not totally.  And those candied chewy bits are not fruit!  Admit it – that’s where the idea for gummy bears came, isn’t it?)


  1. Haha. I loves me a bit of fruitcake - with marzipan and icing. Especially the bricks! Did we teach you nothing! xxx

    1. :-) - you tried, my gummy-bear-called-fruit loving friend :-)