It’s funny to me how all the pictures of families gathering around the table to enjoy a Christmas meal together seem to have as the focal point, the turkey… or maybe a ham too. The reason this is funny… or rather a bit strange to me is my family could never be accused of being master chefs of the carnivorous types. I read about people injecting with spices…. soaking in a brine…. stuffing with herbs and fruit…. deep fry it, smoke it, bake it… covered, uncovered or some combination of both. It wasn’t like that with my family at all. We just tried to get it done enough to eat without killing off anyone.
While we weren’t much with the bird… our specialities were the side dishes and the desserts. Now THAT is what I always looked forward too. I always knew we were at the holidays when I could step outside of the car at my grandmothers house with my single toy I was allowed to bring with me (please note the bitterness still in my tone here) and I immediately could smell the pungent, aromatic smell that could only be collards cooking. If you are not from the southern part of the US this is a smell that you have never known, and if you have had the good fortune of it, you would wonder why on God’s earth would someone eat something that smells like that. this, I can not even begin to explain but it wasn’t Christmas unless I ate “a mess” of collard. (For the less informed, “a mess” is just a colloquial term for a lot… we do have to complicate things some times).
In addition to the collards, we would always have some wonderful potato salad, and my aunt made the world’s best chicken salad, usually green beans, rutabaga and beets. And there were the breads…..there was corn bread and my grandmother’s biscuits that my sister has come close to replicating but not.. quite there. And the desserts… my favorites were multilayer chocolate cakes and pecan pies. My grandmother also made the worlds most wonderful bread pudding. I don’t know that it was really a dessert but when you could get some right out of the oven it was a small taste of Heaven to me.
The smells, the colors, the sight of this bounty covering every inch of my grandmother’s table and kitchen counter tops. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to sit at the kid’s table just one more time and dive head first into a plate or two of this!!