new Things I Ate in Cambodia: festive calories

Thursday, December 20, 2007

festive calories

We are Americans and holidays are thus equivalent to Eating Festive Crap. I am behind this 100%.

But what kind of festive crap? There are so many. There is of course foo-foo expensive Festive Crap (excuse me, artisan traditional inspired free-trade foods) which are sold in places like the San Francisco Ferry Building, upscale grocery stores, and possibly art galleries. But I have no desire to discuss such things. I'm thinking more along the lines of mass-production, possibly child labor.

Take the Whitman's Sampler, for example. No one in our family actually seeks them out, but they always wind their way into our cupboard anyway, given as gifts, appearing on the doorstep, somehow acquired. The chocolates always taste like gummy, chewy chemicals, but most of them usually get eaten anyhow.

(I have never encountered a fruitcake in the flesh because no one in my family bakes, but the legends are so amusing.)

Or perhaps the Corporate Gift Basket, the epitome of the present that shows you care but not enough to actually individualize or anything. The vaguely upscale food offerings in those things always seem to be vaguely stale, off somehow - they languish in the cupboard for up to five years at a time, because no time is really the right time for artichoke flavored cheese biscuits with tinned smoked salmon. (But it wouldn't feel right to throw it away! Who knows when we might need artichoke flavored cheese biscuits topped with smoked salmon and Boursin? Who knows?) And so they sit forever.

Of course, some of these things really do taste good. A North Carolina tradition is the ultra-thin Moravian Spice Cookie, which I always anticipate the arrival of each year. Tiny and delicate, they don't ship particularly well, but there are few better crispy-spicy accompaniments to an afternoon cup of tea. They would be delicious crumpled a bit and put on ginger ice cream - but that would be decadent.

And then there's Peppermint Bark - I don't care who makes it,though I enjoy the Williams Sonoma version. Few more perfect candies have ever been produced, says I - white chocolate, dark chocolate, tiny nibs of peppermint candy, and it has such satisfying *heft* to it. I love being able to snap off just as much as I choose, and eat it very slowly.

And we of course anticipate - the coming of the Almond Roca, in those wonderful little golden wrappers (crumple them up, make space hats for pets), covered in little chocolatey toffee bits. Beautiful. I used to enjoy those shiny little Lindt Truffles but now they taste unpleasantly oily to me, and I don't like how they stain my hands...

But I am fairly adverse to sugar. I like spicy food, candy that isn't really candy, cookies that taste more of buckwheat and robust health then brown sugar and oozing chocolate chip. I anticipate the arrival of the first clementines of the season (the kind that squirt juice in your eye when you unwrap them, a sign of true quality,) the bags of dried cherries and almonds, the gorgeous pomegranates that appear everywhere when California begins to slowly drizzle (til' February and spring.)

I should be eating more chocolate.

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