The Culinary Ghosts of Christmas Past

Grocery as a holiday art form.

It’s delightful to realize that hand-crafted, super-high quality holiday foodstuffs show up in the Portland retail food culture.  So it is with three perennial Christmas food gifts that are offered at New Seasons Market.

Little McTavish Ginger Spice Shortbread fellows, produced locally, remind me of the surprise and IMAG1837wonder I experienced when I first made the chocolate shortbread recipe in The Pleasures of Cooking back in the mid-’70s.  Each small piece was christened with a piped star of cream cheese icing.  It was really my first experience with the succulence of a fat-enriched, non-sweet dessert, and it was a revelation.

Emblematic of the Christmas season is, dare I say it, fruitcake.  I’ll admit to eating only one fruitcake in my entire life that I truly loved.  It was candied cherries, candied IMAG1840pineapple and walnuts with just enough batter to hold the thing together.  No doubt, it was swathed in a cloak of brandy as the crumb was tender and moist, and I closed my eyes as I dreamily ate it.  It, too, was many years ago; and it set a standard that has yet to be met.  Enter Gianna’s Fruitcake.

The last holiday food gift to tug at my heart-strings is Mallow Artisan Chocolate IMAG1839Marshmallows.  Marshmallows have gotten a bad rap.  If you’ve ever had a fresh handmade marshmallow, you have established a very high standard for yourself, and nothing else will do.  I hope the product is as fantastic as the packaging…

So, it’s a mystery.  Will these locally produced Christmas icons reinstate my faith?  Only time will tell.  On Christmas Eve day as you read this, they’ll be traveling with me and Biscuit from PDX through DFW to CVG, and not until Christmas Day will the jury arrive.

Merry Christmas Eve.

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