Blogs With Bite

Blogs With Bite 23 December 2009      

Blogs with Bite is an occasional omnivorous sampling of food blogs and sites we find particularly tasty. Follow the trail of bread crumbs back to earlier editions, starting here.      

Here’s a fresh holiday serving of Blogs with Bite:      

Society for the Protection & Preservation of the Fruitcake  Founded ca. 1999 by Mary Beth Frezon. Recipes, history, philosophy, links. That green stuff in the cake? Candied citron peel.  Robert Sietsema’s “Short History of Fruitcake” is still tasty; Linda Stradley’s version is short and sweet. Apollo 11 brought fruitcake into space in 1969; it was an odd pineapple variety but, typically, some astronauts refused to eat it. Fans of the dense pastry should blast off to Mondo Fruitcake. What makes fruitcake so durableSugar and alcohol (see Cynthia Bertelsen’s post on fermentation). The Caribbean, source of sugar and rum, has its own especially dense Black Fruitcake. Is baking too much trouble? Try an inflatable fruitcake.      

Cookie Cutter Museum  Knightstown, Indiana. There are also cookie cutter museums in Poland, NY and Joplin, MO, and a national Cookie Cutter Collector’s Club. Cookie boards (wooden molds, like the ones used for Spekulatius and Springerle) preceded tin cookie cutters. Alice Ross has a nice history of shaped Christmas gingerbread.      

Snow Cream — Got snow? Make snow cream.    

Latkes vs. Sufganiyot — Hanukkah smackdown! A deep doctrinal rift divides the world Jewish community this time of year. Which fried treats should be served during the Festival of Lights, savory potato latkes (pancakes) or sweet sufganiyot (jelly donuts)? Sufganiyot (singular, sufganiyah) are favored in Israel (emphatically so), latkes in Europe and the USA. Some celebrants try to avoid this conflict by serving fritters.     

Christmas Pickle Heard about the traditional German Christmas ornament shaped like a pickled cucumber, and the “Hide the Pickle” game? It’s a hoax or urban legend Really. Honest

Rosca de reyes (roscón de reyes) In some communities the highlight of the winter season is the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, January 6th for modern Western Christians (January 19th for some Orthodox Christians).  Barry Popnik has collected a representative sampling. 

Rømmegrøt Norwegian custard (the name means “Sour Cream Porridge“), often eaten at Christmas and other festive occasions. Heart-stoppingly good at any time. Cynthia Bertelsen has a lovely description of the dish.    

Panettone (panetton, or panetùn) — Traditional Italian Christmas bread which originated in Milan. Italian authorities ensure that the delicacy is made with pure butter and beer yeast. There is a move to protect panettone from inferior foreign imitations.

History of Christmas Foods —  Lynne Olver on Buche de Noel, candy canes, mincemeat pies, and more.    

Stollen (Christstollen) “Christ’s Christmas breads” have been made in and near Dresden since at least 1330.    

Christmas Pudding  Fat, sugar, spirits, spices, preserved fruit. Yum. Sometimes called “Plum Pudding” though it has no plums (early Xmas puds may have had prunes, dried plums). Food Timeline records this pudding’s history.  Orlando Murrin has an interesting version, but Australia’s Paul Denyer has the ultimate pudding website. Find even more recipes here. Note: Christmas pudding needs regular maintenance and lubrication (with hard sauce).   

Sugarplums Sharon Cohen on the history on preparation of these Christmas confections.   

National Potato Latke Eating Championship Zan’s Kosher Deli in Lake Grove, NY holds this annual sanctioned and certified Kosher competition. The 2009 event was held on December 13th and won by Don “Moses” Lerman (31 latkes), who then retired from competitive eating. Mazel Tov.     

Pandoro The other Italian Christmas bread, originally from Verona.    

Little Gingerbread House on the Prairie — Laura Ingalls Wilder’s gingerbread recipe.   

 Bubbe Wendy’s Hannukah Latkes — Eric R. Trinidad blogs about Bubbe (Grandma) Wendy’s holiday potato pancakes. A very American recipe.  The latke should not be confused with the latkcho.
Christmas Cookies of the World  Recipes from many countries.
St. Stephen’s Horns (Podkovy) — Crescent-shaped pastries baked on St. Stephen’s Day (December 26th) in Poland and other Slavic countries. Ireland celebrates the day with a traditional stew.
Iceland’s Winter Feasts — Laufabrauð (Leaf-bread), a fried wafer incised with intricate leaf patterns, is served during Advent with smoked lamb (hangikjöt), butter, red cabbage and peas, and washed down with Jólabland (a kind of “shandy” made with fizzy orange soda and ale or malt beer). You can even get ready-mixed Jólabland these days. On December 23rd, Iceland celebrates native-born Saint Thorlakur during  Þorláksmessa (Mass of St. Thorlák) with a noon meal of kæst skata, aged or fermented (“rotten”) skate, (meat of the muscular “wings” is preferred). Þorrablót, a pre-Christian midwinter holiday in January and February, features traditional meals of fermented shark meat, Harðfiskur (dried fish snacks), Hrútspungar (sheep’s testicles), Hvalspik (whale blubber), Selshreifar (seal flippers), Sviðasulta (mutton headcheese), Magálar (smoked sheep’s bellies), Svið (singed sheep’s heads), Brennivín (caraway-flavored potato schnapps), and so on. The Christmas meal is much more conventional, just the usual hangikjötSteiktar Rjúpur (fried ptarmigan), lamb roast, goose, Hamborgarhryggur (smoked pork rib roast), rice pudding, and cookies. And don’t forget the Brennivín.
Eggnog HistoryMark Anderson has a brief account; so does Nanna Rognvaldardottir. Spiced wine or ale is also a seasonal tradition.
Hangover Cures — Julia Watson has a few suggestions.
Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.    

Image: “Take-Out in the Dining Room, after Paul Signac,” by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,    

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3 Responses to “Blogs With Bite”

  1. Cynthia Bertelsen Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Love these lists you’re making, lots of great new blogs to explore. And thanks for mentioning mine, too.

    Enjoy the holidays and I can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with for New Year’s!


  2. Tinky Weisblat Says:

    Thanks for brightening and informing my holidays with your wonderful list(s)….

  3. Christmas in Peru (and elsewhere) | Rachel Laudan Says:

    […] lovely roundup of Christmas food blogs by Mike Licht (and check his blog year round for on-the-mark and entertaining graphics.  How does […]

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