The holidays are full of fun, frolic, and potentially fright
if you’re dealing with stressful travel or social situations. Whatever that
happens in the next two weeks, there’s plenty of good food to be had. I’d like
to know how you’re celebrating Christmas and New Year — what you’re eating and
drinking, specifically. It doesn’t have to be pure, 100% Vietnamese food.
In fact, that’s never how my family has celebrated
Christmas. We’re Catholic so we go to mass on Christmas Eve and then come home,
take off our nicey church clothes, and eat for a few hours. In
we attended midnight mass and went
home for Reveillon, the French term for a holiday dinner. We’d open our gifts when the clock struck twelve that evening. Once we arrived in the
we got lazy and went to mass earlier, but never gave up the gift opening time.
We actually moved it up!
As a kid, my friends thought that I cheated by not waiting
until morning to rip into the wrapped gifts. They also didn’t understand why we
made dozens of yule log cakes (buche de Noel cake) to gift to friends, family
and neighbors. On Christmas Eve, we had roast goose or turkey with stuffing
featuring sticky rice and chestnut. It was and continues to be a delectable
mash-up of wonderful food.
For many years I made Christmas Eve dinner for my parents
but next Monday, my mother and I are doing it together. I’m also going to enlist
my nieces and nephews, who are old enough to handle knives well. Mom is roasting Cornish game hens stuffed with the aforementioned dressing with a little cognac in there for good measure. (As
always, my sister Tasha will seek out the crusty bits of rice for herself.) My
mother will also make a creamy corn and shiitake mushroom soup, our modern take on the Chinese canned cream
As for me, I’m in charge of the deep-fried cha gio imperial
rolls. We’re in Dungeness crab season where I live so fresh crab meat will be
mixed into the shrimp-pork-jicama-and-cellophane noodle filling. Lots of fresh
lettuce and Vietnamese herbs and nuoc cham sort of make cha gio our salad
course. We’ll also roast cauliflower because it's simple and something tasty that I picked
up this year. My mother loves sweet potatoes so I’ll have to figure something
out for them. We need a green vegetable so it’ll be green beans. For dessert?
Assorted cookies and small pastries that I’ve baked and whatever that my mom
has around that she wants to tantalize us with. Here's a recap of our menu:
Creamy Corn and Shiitake Mushroom Soup
Cha Gio Imperial Rolls with Lettuce, Fresh Herbs and Nuoc Cham
Roasted Cauliflower with Indian Spices
A Sweet Potato Something (perhaps with Ginger and Tangerine Peel)
Stir-fried Green Beans
Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Sticky Rice and Chestnut Stuffing
Assorted Homemade Sweets
My father will have lots of wine flowing to make sure we
sleep well on December 24.
What will you be feasting on?
Let us all know.
It can be as simple as posting your menu as a comment below. Add a link to a
photo, if you want to make our mouths water more! Or email me a photo of your holiday
spread and I’ll post it here.