Last night, I spent some time preparing two of my required holiday foods.
I know I am not alone in feeling that an important part of Christmas (and Thanksgiving) is having certain foods. For example, I can’t imagine either holiday dinner without butternut squash. When I was growing up in Michigan, my father raised them so we had them often, but they tasted best on those two feast days.
But traditions evolve. One I have created involves collard greens.
I never had them until I lived in New York. I didn’t even know how to spell the word correctly. For a long time, I thought it was spelled “colored,” because as a child I was told that Black people ate them (of course, the word used was not “black”). A couple of years before we moved to Richmond, Jonathan and I ate in a Jamaican restaurant in Brooklyn famous for their collards. I was hooked at the first bite. I have been fixing them ever since, and especially when feeding a large group (like the MCC Richmond Christmas Day potluck).
So I cannot imagine Thanksgiving or Christmas without collards. I think mine are pretty good–especially because as a vegetarian I don’t use fatback or other meat products for seasoning. Instead, liquid smoke does the trick, along with a healthy dose of red pepper (and a couple of other things I keep to myself).
I know how blessed I am to be able to go to the store and buy these two favorites, and then to have a stove and all the necessary ingredients to prepare them. So, in addition to eating them with delight and gusto, I pray for the day to come soon when everyone in the world can eat their favorite holiday foods–and eat well every day.
Merry Christmas! And Bon Appetit!