I’m Having a Creole Christmas, Y’all
And I’m ready to kiss 2021 good-bye … aren’t you?
Hello my friends,
Looks like we’ve managed to survive all the slings and arrows of this outrageous year — who knew it would surpass 2020 in pure crazy? But I’m still standing at (or at least leaning heavily on) the bar, and I’m counting that as a win. How about you?
This is my family’s first holiday season after the passing of my dad (you can find that story here), and we’ve focused on creating new traditions that keep the joy from past years, but put a fresh spin on being together. It helps that I’m back in New Orleans :-), a place where your ancestors are always welcome at the dinner table.
A Voudou priestess acquaintance here tells me that the city is a “psychic seaport” where the energies of the dead hover over the city, drawn by the rivers and lakes, the bayous, the Gulf.
I don’t know about her ghosts, but mine seem to congregate in my kitchen. (Think Whoopi Goldberg in Ghosts, bumping into phantom souls wherever she turns.) And listen — anybody wandering into my kitchen has to help chop, rinse, or stir, I’m just sayin’. So I’ve put my ghostly sous chefs to work, recreating a traditional Reveillon Dinner.
In French, the word “reveillon” means “awakening.” In centuries past, Creoles celebrated the start of Christmas with a big family meal when they returned home from Midnight Mass. (Not that I would’ve minded oyster gumbo, venison pie, stuffed fishes, souffles, lavish desserts and brandy at 2:00 in the morning — as long as someone else had done all the cooking.)
Needless to say, families and restaurants have updated the tradition in a million delicious ways. Here’s what I (and whatever spirits invade my kitchen) will be cooking this year:
Reveillon Christmas Dinner (served at a civilized 4:00pm in the afternoon, thank you very much)
Boston Lettuce Salad with Pears and Spiced Pecans
Shrimp-stuffed Gulf Fish Creole
Braised Greens with Jalapeno Shrimp Cornbread
Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
And of course plenty of wine, locally brewed beer, whiskey, chicory coffee and tea.
If you’re thinking of cooking along with me, please do! I’ll be posting recipes and pics every day next week, assuming I don’t actually poison my family with a cayenne pepper overdose or something. (Wish me luck on that, friends.)
Finally, whatever holiday you’re celebrating (or not) this joyful season, I pray that it’s peaceful and safe. Thanks for being here.