In Kentucky the onset of autumn is here, and the weather has already taken a turn toward the cold. Our first frost killed Kat’s basil a week ago, further signaling the time of year when Amazon Workkampers settle in for two tough, grind-it-out months on the job. This work buys a lot of diesel and campground fees, and when you think about it, working four months a year is quite the luxury. You get just enough of that old nose-to-the-grindstone to remember how sweet the time off for travel is, and will be when we visit California, Oregon, and Washington in 2016. But it’s still work, and where there’s work, you’ll find daydreaming.
I’m thinking about what we’ll do for this year’s Christmas in Tennessee. Last year was marinated brisket with gravy and latkes. The year before was a rib roast and a turkey, if memory serves. I love to observe our peculiar Christmas tradition: cook something new every year! Over the years we’ve done goose, turducken, pork crown roast, smoked turkey, fried turkey, hickory smoked ham, country ham, oysters Bienville, and once when caught on the road and no place else was open, Pizza Hut. I can’t think of what’s left, so I asked The Google, and she told me: Go for a Reveillon.
Sounds like Reveille, the bugle call to awaken the troops, right? You’re close. It’s a French term for awakening, or more accurately, staying awake from late evening Mass to long past midnight Christmas Eve. Long ago the Church expected a day-long fast on Christmas Eve to be broken after its latest Mass. This occasioned a multi-course feast with champagne and too many desserts. Hey, the Tennessee group loves champagne! The Google is onto something. There will be no fast, but we will feast for hours Christmas afternoon.
The typical first course is foie gras. We’ll make do with truffled pate on buttered baguettes. An oyster course is next; we’ll try Warren LeRuth’s legendary Oyster and Artichoke Soup. Lox on onion bagel medallions with chived cream cheese will follow. The traditional lobster course highlights the feast, but good ones are hard to find on the mountain. Instead we’ll use frozen tails in Emeril’s Lobster Mac and Cheese with Swiss, Fontina, and Parmesan cream sauce. In France a roast turkey would be next, but few will be that hungry, so we’ll prepare Swedish meatballs a day ahead for those with bottomless stomachs. Dessert will be the French “La Buche de Noel”, a rolled cream cake with many flavor options. I think something chocolatey-raspberry would be perfect, but espresso-chocolate or orange-cream might find a more universal appeal. I’ll hide a pumpkin pie just in case somebody complains; they’re even better the next day, don’t you know?