Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

America

July 4, 2018

“America,” composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, from the 1961 film West Side StoryRita Moreno (Anita) and George Chakiris (Bernardo) are the principal singers in the movie; their roles were originally created on Broadway by Larry Kert and Chita Rivera in 1957.

“Life is all right in America, if you’re all white in America”

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4th of July

July 4, 2018

Star Swain of Tallahassee visits the Lincoln Memorial.

“She hesitated to sing the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial. Then, she slayed.” Lindsey Bever, Washington Post

Happy Independence Day.

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The Macaroons of Moses

March 30, 2018

The Macaroons of Moses

Tonight many Jewish families hold the Seder, the ritual meal celebrating the holiday of Passover. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the customs of this dinner, such as recounting the Exodus story as told in the ancient Maxwell House Haggadah and the obligation to drink four glasses of wine (oh, the sacrifices …).

One seasonal custom puzzling to Gentiles is the appearance of canned Kosher cookies in American supermarkets. Many Jews are puzzled as well, since the cookies are macaroons made with coconut, chocolate, and other ingredients not prominent in the Old Testament.

Origins of the Passover macaroon are shrouded in mystery. Some believe the dense sweets derive from hastily assembled desserts prepared by the Israelites as they fled Egyptian bondage on a route devoid of donut shops. Others maintain that, in the nineteenth century, rabbinical scholars exploring caves near the Dead Sea uncovered a huge cache of ancient canisters of sweet, rock-hard, unleavened biscuits. Each spring these pious prospectors slapped “Kosher for Passover” labels on the cans and exported them to the growing Jewish community in the United States, and a tradition was born.

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Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

March 29, 2018

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

The Haggadah (הַגָּדָה‎) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover ritual meal, the Seder.

“There’s a reason the haggadah feels goyish: Formally speaking, it’s Greek. It’s a Judaicized version of a Greek genre called ‘symposium literature’. Plato loved the form. So did Xenophon. The symposium enshrined the most appealing traits of the Hellenic personality: conviviality, Epicureanism, a love of good conversation.”

–”Platonic Form,” Judith Shulevitz, Tablet Magazine

The ancient Greek symposium (συμπόσιον) was a drinking party; drinking four glasses of wine is a Passover obligation. Diners are supposed to recline while they do so, just like the Greeks.

There’s a cute Passover tradition, breaking a piece of matzoh (unleavened bread) and hiding half of it. The bread can only be eaten at the end of the meal, after the family’s children discover it. That piece of bread has a funny name, afikomen, but its origin isn’t Hebrew. You guessed it, it’s Greek:

“In Greek, the word is epikomen and is made up of two smaller words: epi, which means after (as in an epilogue), and komos, which means a banquet or merrymaking, and is the same word that inspired the English word comedy. For centuries, Jews have taken afikomen to mean ‘that which comes after the meal,’ more commonly known, of course, as dessert.”

– “Breaking Matzah,” David K. Israel, Mental Floss

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Mardi Gras

February 13, 2018

You’re sipping hurricane cocktails and Dixie Beer and watching the Mardi Gras parades. Whoa. Mardi Gras Indians aren’t the only ones dancing today!

“Ain’t No Place to Pee on Mardi Gras Day” by Benny Antin, from the 1997 album Wild LinoleumLyrics here.

Related:

“93,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads among debris removed during citywide catch basin cleaning project,” Helen Freund, The New Orleans Advocate

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Groundhog Day

February 2, 2018

Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd, time to monitor Marmota monax and dream of winter’s end. Whether or not you believe in woodchuck weathermen, one thing is certain: you can’t have groundhogs if you want a backyard full of fresh garden veggies.

Groundhogs (aka woodchucks, whistlepigs, and marmots) are insecto-vegetarians and confirmed locavores. If you plan to plant this spring, harvest those hairy beasts now. Celebrate Groundhog Day with critter cuisine.

Serving suggestions:

Woodchuck au Vin

Canadian Fried Woodchuck

Groundhog Pie

Woodchuck Recipes from Michigan (Oriental Groundhog,Waco Groundhog in Sour Cream,Woodchuck Stew, Woodchuck Meat Loaf)

More groundhog lore and recipes here and here.

In his book Groundhog Day, Don Yoder reprints a classic groundhog recipe from Cooking with the Groundhog, published as a fundraiser by a hospital auxiliary in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the “official” Groundhog’s Day Festival (there are more than a few others ). A Georgia groundhog is on Twitter.

Seven years ago, whilst stalking the elusive picture book Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather, we espied an ad for the Range Kleen Preseasoned Cast Iron 10 Inch Fry Pan on the book’s Amazon.com page and cooked up today’s graphic. There’s obviously no “storybook ending” to this post if you’re a groundhog.

Related:

“Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs,” Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American blog

“Groundhogs and Ground Squirrels: Winter Prognosticators,”  Sharol Nelson-Embry, Quest

“40 years of groundhog forecasts, mapped,” Kennedy Elliott and Shelly Tan, Washington Post

“Punxsutawney Phil: incompetent — or evil?” Phil Edwards, Vox

“Depressed Groundhog Sees Shadow Of Rodent He Once Was,”The Onion

“Where Did Groundhog Day Come From? ” Mental Floss

“A Short History of Groundhog Day,” Danny Lewis, Smithsonian.com

“Groundhog Day Explained,” CGP Grey (video)

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Image (“Marmot sauté, after John James Audubon”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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This Is the New Year

January 1, 2018

‘This Is the New Year,” written by Ian Axel and performed by him with Chad King as A Great Big World. in 2012. Video director: Leiv Parton.

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Happy New Year

January 1, 2018

“Happy New Year,” from ABBA in 1980. written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

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After New Years Eve

January 1, 2018

“After New Years Eve,” written by James “Shep” Sheppard and William Henry Miller and recorded by The Heartbeats. James Sheppard sings the lead vocal.

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Corrido de Auld Lang Syne

January 1, 2018

“Corrido de Auld Lang Syne” by Little Bobby Rey and his Band, an early LA Chicano pop band (also called “The Masked Phantom Band”) in about 1960. “Corrido” here means the music is in a galloping rhythm. Mr. Rey learned the saxophone from Earl Bostic.

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