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20 December 2006

Yule, Wassail, Figgy Pudding & Jammy Beau

Yule_log Yule
The term yule has its roots in the winter Solstice festivals of Northern Europe.  Jol (pronounced 'Jule' or 'Yule') was a feast held to honor the Norse god Odin - god of intoxication and ecstasy (sounds like a swingin immortal).  From yule par-tays, sprang the tradition of the yule log.  The Norsefolk, in their over-imbibed state, needed to keep the hearth a-burnin all night long.  The longest burning logs were referred to as yule logs.  In the former Yugoslavia, folks partook in some interesting log-related activities:

"..the Yule Log was cut just before dawn on Christmas Eve and carried into the house at twilight. The wood itself was decorated with flowers, colored silks and gold, and then doused with wine and an offering of grain. In the area of France known as Provence, families would go together to cut the Yule Log, singing as they went along. These songs asked for blessings to be bestowed upon their crops and their flocks."

More fun from the Northern Europeans. Wassail crept south and became famous in Olde England.  This winter drink was usually a combo of beer, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.  Often, it was topped with bread, which served as wassail sops.

Figgy Pudding
How many of us annoyed our neighbors by demanding figgy pudding; without having any idea what the stuff was?  Learn what it is via oral dissection (i.e. try this recipe).

Carquelin Jammy Beau
Indeed, the adjective 'jammy' is overused.  However, Carquelin, a Beaujolais Cru by Big George, is a bottle-full of fresh blackberry jam just like your mama used to make.  This BeauJoCru is the perfect midweek pick-me-up.  There are also wonderful scents of sweet spice and juicy, chewy tannins.  Try it with pasta and marinara, or even the Christmas ham.  The details: Carquelin Moulin a Vent 2005 ($14-$18; imported by WJ Deutsch & Sons)

What's in your cup/glass/bowl this holiday season?


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My wife has an aversion to soggy bread puddings but I love them, especially around Christmas with lots of boozy sauce and a large glass of sherry and some stinking cheese and a warm fire and a bowl of nuts in the shell and all the relatives off to the damn mall and the children locked in a basement tv room and a large metropolitan newspaper at hand and an electic throw turned up to medium in my new silk boxers.


I dunno - that figgy pudding doesn't look like christmas puddings I know. Real puddings are frugal affairs made with bread crumbs, dried fruits, spices, a precious amount of sugar, and real fat like suet. You steam the snot out of it for hours, then pack it away in the cellar for a couple months (anything less than three weeks just doesn't work.) Reheat by steaming a couple hours then serve flaming and offer that boozy sauce!

Bradley - my wife loathes soggy bread puddings but this pudding is food of the gods to her! She managed to get her very British grandmother to divulge the recipe and I (alas) am sworn to secrecy...

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