theresaurus

December 25, 2014

A Dickens Christmas dinner

Filed under: Uncategorized — theresaurus @ 1:51 pm

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I ordered a turkey to roast for Christmas: it was skinny, scrawny and pale, A Christmas Carol poor people’s Christmas dinner.  There was an accident while I heaved it onto the plate and a leg was injured so it was a poor people’s handicapped turkey Christmas dinner.  It wasn’t cheap, either.  Eked out with roasted vegetables it was okay, but not ideal.

Cathy Kaufman, The Ideal Christmas Dinner:

“Written as Christmas was evolving into the epitome of Victorian domesticity, Dickens’ novella tidily evoked both the dying and the emerging traditions through four distinct food scenes.  First was the vision of Christmas Past when Ebeneser Scrooge was transported back to his apprenticeship under Old Fezziwig for the quaint, slightly anachronistic party that Fezziwig hosted for his extended community.  This was unpretentious and jolly, as children, local tradesmen, and Fezziwig’s employees feasted on great joints of beef, beer, mince pies and gamboled merrily into the night.

“The second food event was Scrooge’s introduction to the Ghost of Christmas Past, ensconced on a great throne constructed from every imaginable furred and feathered game, supported by barrels of oysters, mincemeats, sausages, and plum puddings, luxurious imported oranges, Twelfth Night cakes, and immense bowls of punch.  The throne of Christmas Past represented the Christmas gastronomic indulgence of the well-to-do.  The throne contrasted with the third food image, Cratchit’s shabby table laid with a scrawny goose that had to be sent out for roasting at the local bakeshop, gravy, mashed potatoes, sage-and-onion stuffing and applesauce.  The meal’s highlight was a blazing plum pudding garnished with holly that was triumphantly paraded into the flat.

“The last meal, the real dinner enjoyed by the Cratchit’s on Christmas Day, was a mystery.  All we know is that Scrooge sent Crachtit the biggest turkey in the poulterer’s shop.  It was also the food image that resonated most deeply in America.  In bypassing beef, brawn, and venison identified with feasts, Dickens calibrated Christmas dinner to a domestic lower-middle class setting: in Dickens’ own words, ‘Eked out by the apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family.’

“Unlike Thanksgiving, with its immutable elements of turkey, pumpkin and cranberries regardless of one’s socioeconomic status, American Christmas has become an expression of class, purse, and ethnic origins, with only occasional nods to unifying traditions.  Archaic pudding (purchased, not homemade) is trotted out annually by the most nostalgic, in homage to the image of Christmas as an ancient holiday. … Unlike our colonial ancestors, contemporary Americans think Christmas dinner is very important: we simply cannot predict the menu.”

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2 Comments »

  1. Looks tasty!

    Comment by Anne — December 25, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

    • I dry brined it with plenty of sea salt and maple sugar, the skin was nice and crispy (I ate all the skin and both wings).

      Comment by theresaurus — December 26, 2014 @ 11:16 pm


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