My family is not a Christmas family, preferring to use the holiday as a nice time to sit in the living room reading quietly for hours at a time. We eat food, but it is not traditionally “Christmas” food—likely because Christmas isn’t a holiday that is generally associated with food and also because it seems that Christmas food sucks.
When hard-pressed to think of foods that are traditionally associated with Christmas, I was forced to turn to my colleagues for assistance. Here’s what we came up with, and here is what I think of these foods.
A vague and likely shoddy memory of Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol comes to mind: didn’t they eat goose? Wasn’t there a goose on the table at the end, after the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future are gone, and Tiny Tim is no longer whining about whatever it is he was upset about and Scrooge is nice again? I’ve never had goose, but I do love duck. Ducks are, in general, kinder than geese, who are terrifying creatures that will attack you at a moment’s notice. I’d rather eat a duck than a goose, whose flesh is likely gamy in a way that is unappealing and also tough. Geese spend half their lives shitting on large expanses of grass and chasing children who lurk at the corners of duck ponds. They are buff birds, their meat is stringy, fibrous, not tender. NO thank you.
2. The Feast of the 7 Fishes
This is a tradition I can get behind, though eating seven fish courses in one evening seems arduous. Still, a challenge that I readily accept. Where’s the galamad? Bring on the bacalao. I’m wearing my eating pants. Let’s go.
People make an awful lot of jokes about fruitcake, yet I’ve never actually seen anyone make a fruitcake or eat a fruitcake. If this recipe is correct, it looks like a fruitcake is just a dense cake with alcoholic fruit OR dried and crystallized fruit. Seems like something nice to eat with coffee—toasted in the toaster oven, spread with butter, and enjoyed while hiding in the linen closet to avoid your cousin Karen who wants to talk to you about Fortnite while flossing.
4. Candy Canes
A good Christmas treat because you can take them off the tree, and suck on the end until you’ve formed a weapon—sharp and pointy like an icicle—that you can use to assault your sister at dinner. Even better? Sticking said candy weapon into a steaming mug of hot cocoa and letting it rock.
Some people think it’s bad. I think it’s delicious drinking custard.
6. Christmas cookies of all sorts
Cookies are good! Christmas cookies, even when coated in a film of sticky icing that makes my teeth ache, are still good.
Yes! This! Bread! Good bread. Good in bread pudding. Good eaten for breakfast, in the aforementioned scenario with your flossing cousin and the hot coffee. Good eaten in large hunks late at night after you smoked a joint with your aunt Sheila on the back porch and talked shit about your mom. Good in April, if you can find it.
8. Gingerbread men and their homes
Some gingerbread cookies are delicious and others are dry simulacra of what a cookie actually should be. I have yet to eat a flavorful piece of gingerbread that didn’t make me scream for water. However, a well-executed gingerbread home is a thing of joy, and while it is a little weird that the gingerbread people are made of the same substance as their abodes, it’s best to not think about that and just enjoy the season.