December 2016 Archive

This year the Enlightened Housewife is confronted by a unique challenge. How to cater for the traditions encompassed (that’s wordy) by three cultures. (“Encompassed”. ¬†Sounds like the state of my wallet before I started Christmas shopping this year. As in. My wallet encompassed a lot of money before I was exposed to the terribly effective marketing processes by the major American Merchants.
To wit, Macy’s flyers came through the mailbox almost daily. In the last two weeks we had a Last Minute Sale. Then a final sale. Then a Last Second Sale!!

Nuts!

So Philip our German Au Pair and I were talking about the different ways of celebrating Christmas around the world. Philip is used to celebrating Christmas Eve. In and aound his village,big hot dinner is Raclette which his family comes together to celebrate.

“The word “raclette” comes from the French word “to scrape.” Raclette makes up a simple meal that was enjoyed by shepherds in the fields. They would boil up some potatoes, and heat a stone and melt a bit of the raclette cheese on the hot stone. Once melted, the cheese was scraped off and served on top of the potatoes. Raclette has a long history and has been mentioned in medieval writings.”
The German tradition is to have the heated grill in the middle of the dining table and everyone takes their own plate or pan to cook a selection of meats, veges and cheese! Yum! The gift giving is on Christmas Eve. And get this folks! Santa visits the young children in person! Knocks on the door Christmas Eve and hands out gifts to all the young children. I look at him amazed! “How the fuck does Santa take time out of his busy schedule to personally visit the children in your village?” And the Villages around, he says,” like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

So far,So Great. Germany celebrates on Christmas Eve and we have a young gentleman from Germany, his first Christmas away from home and now I’m¬†eager to make sure there’s not too much of a disconnect to knock him into homesickness. “We’ll have our hot dinner Christmas Eve to celebrate for Philip I tell the Master of the Domain. Hubby. He looks resigned. “That just means we’ll have all the cooking and preparation for big meals two days in a row”, he says. “I know right!” I bounce.

The Kiwi tradition for a meal is a combo of a hot meal, seafood and grilling (barbecuing) And anything in between. Cooked and devoured with plates on knees or dressed up sitting around a dining table. Which makes Absolutely No Sense given New Zealand celebrates Christmas in Summer. But dress up we must given our Commonwealth ties:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarchy_of_New_Zealand

So. We subsequent to much forelock tugging, we plan our hot meal for Christmas Eve:

Menu

Roast Pork with Sage and Fennel

Roast Chicken with Tarragon Mustard and Chive Butter Glaze.

Veges:

Squash Casserole. (This is a testimony to the American element of our Christmas. (Squash, Shopping and Starbucks)

Scalloped Potatoes.

Roast Fennel Bulb and Red Onion

Steamed Fresh Vegetables.

Other Sides

Italian Seasoned Stuffing.

Recipes¬†and photos to follow. I will say the roast meat was amazing. I’d cooked roast lamb three nights ahead and left the fat and juices in the pan. When it came to cook the pork I fired up the oven to temp (415′ for 25 minutes then back down to 350′ for three hours. I threw the pork in on the dirty pan. The pork was flavored with a cumin/black pepper rub and sprinkled with Mustard seed and Coriander seed.
The chicken went in 1 hour and fifty minutes out. A mustard chive and tarragon mix to baste while cooking. The fat from the lamb cooked the pork to a state of tenderness and with a flavorsome crust that you can’t get with a pan scrubbed clean.

Only one more day until the next shopping day:

Best Ever Sale ft Macy's

Best Ever Sale ft Macy’s

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This is our Fifth Christmas in the U.S.A. So I shouldn’t be surprised by the level of consumerism as the Big Day approaches. But I am. Every Fucking time. What in New Zealand I knew as a scramble for gifts becomes ritualistic in the U.S.A. Willy Wonker styles. We’re all searching for the last chocolate bar with the magic ticket. Every child is Charlie fucking Bucket. It’s just plastic crap we’re picking over but somehow it’s essential we find the ticket to what we hope will become a disturbing but magical journey in the New Year that finishes off every other child but ours. We have a winner folks and it’s our progeny. Our gene pool!

It’s Naughty and Nice taken to extremes. And none of us are immune to this compulsive consumerism. Don’t believe me? Find yourself elbowing the fuck out of your way through a wall of your¬†competitors¬†fellow Moms, a week out in the toy aisles in Target for the last life size Elsa doll¬†(aisle 22) moving through the human sea like¬†you’re a finalist in Dancing With The Stars, despite your usual reticent shopping style and you’ll soon get the picture.

It could be that or that we’ve had Johnny Depp in our living room every day for a week. Reruns of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Tim Burton movies.

Christmas in The U.S. Its¬†the fervor with which the PTA Moms put the annual Christmas lunch together. And don’t get me wrong ours was delicious. Some of the Mom chefs at our school would put Julia Child to shame. I was a little late to ours but have been going long enough to know the patter and ease in : “Hi!! HOW ARE you?” Like she really fucking cares. A smile and move on. Not because we’re bad people folks, but we have to get around the room!
I’m as guilty of the next as this. One phrase I have learned not to use when making my departure during my conversational duties is: “See you later!”. It’s just not commonly used in the States. What’s a friendly common phrase in New Zealand makes you sound like a stalker in the¬†U.S. I try to get a selfie with Celebrity Mom but she ducks. Oh well. There’s always next year.
Then we hunker down for a real heads up with the other Bad Moms! Which is when we realise we’re all bad Mom’s just trying to keep it together for the sake of the ungrateful brats kids. ¬†Home and Hearth. That’s the real glue of the Universe, not the fervent attention paid to divining the meaning of Donald Trump’s latest Tweet.

The funniest parts of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:

I hate Chocolate

Christmas in The U.S.A

On the face of it, Christmas here is the same as anywhere else. The guys (sorry Main Breadwinners) work right up until the last day. If the world had any sense it would knock off work (that may be a Kiwi aphorism) a million years ahead of the big day so families could collectively curl up like the Buckets, not to conserve heat but to commiserate about the arduous task ahead of cleaning, decorating, and fighting over who hosts Christmas Dinner. Or better yet, just stopping for a few precious days to enjoy each others company. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Families celebrating the newborn among them. Poignantly remembering those who have passed. Putting a bodyguard on Aunt Mabel so she doesn’t get garrulous on ill begotten whisky from grandpa’s fifty year old stash too early in the day.

There’s always one.

And so Santa would have voted to stay in the EU:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/christmas/2016/12/21/british-public-thinks-father-christmas-would-have-voted-remain/

” This could be because he reaps the benefits of unlimited border control-free travel, or because of the fact he lives in the North Pole and therefore is pretty much a ‘citizen of nowhere’.

There are also claims he lives in Lapland, which is in Europe, so perhaps he just wants the United Kingdom to remain part of the European project, or will miss the benefits of trading with us if a sufficient deal is not met.”

The Human Tsunami: Ft Joshing with Philip.

Did I mention how intense the shopping experience is just prior to Christmas. As in the entire four fucking Months in the lead up to Christmas. It starts straight after Labour Day. Constant and sophisticated marketing techniques. Macy’s is the worst culprit. Don’t whatever you do go through the perfume department from September onwards. They’ll spritz you without permission!! “Do you like the latest scent from Chanel?” Spritz! “Fuck off and get out of my olfactory systems you nose rapist!” You think. You try to prevaricate. “I use…..” looking around and seeing no particular sign of the fragrance house in question.
Philip my Au Pair and companion since August does a great impression of these persistent sales elves. “I use Paco Rabanne”, he says to try and get away. They look like they have a winner and gesture like they’re unveiling a brand new car as a prize, “Step this way sir, we have it over here….”.
And what would be flat out rude in other cultures is self defence in America. “I’m good. Byee.,” you disengage turn and leave. They’re already talking to another customer leaving you slightly discomforted.

If you get a sweet spot during the Christmas shopping period, it’s easy to fool yourself that it must be a quiet day. Maybe the madness is over, you muse to yourself. But what an eerie, eerie phenomenon. You can walk into an empty, Safeway, Toys’R’Us or Macy’s and half an hour later a human tsunami pours in through the doors and you’re weaving and ducking and diving with your trolley. Sorry. Shopping Cart.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Happy shopping Housewives!

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