There's no written recipe - just the memory of touch, sight and scent - and Marilynn's tie to her family and celebrations past can live on.
"Wait - there's an actual recipe for this?"
My husband Douglas paused his furious stirring and spun around from his post at the stove. I pointed to the book his mother, now resting in the front room, had left spread open and bookmarked on her kitchen table.
"Well yeah," I said. "Isn't this what you're using? Onion, cornbread, celery, the egg? It's the same dressing you make for Thanksgiving, and this recipe is pretty much it, right?"
Christmas is often a time for heavy eating and drinking, and the Japanese don't miss out.
But unlike many other countries where there are traditional Christmas dishes, Japan does not have any, and a quick look at a regular family's Christmas feast shows that anything, from sushi to chinese steamed shrimps, are acceptable at the buffet.
However, there is one specialty that many Japanese like to have on the table next to those items – fried chicken from KFC.
Today, it is possibly the closest thing in Japan to a Christmas tradition.
The luscious, dark, tangy, sweet, and often intoxicating first bite of Christmas pudding is a special reminder of the holiday season for those of British origin. A bonus for those unfamiliar with the aged, steamed cake filled with fruit, liquor, and nuts is the opportunity to douse it with brandy butter and set it aflame.
It has been almost two years since I last laid eyes on a Christmas pudding, and in planning this year’s holiday festivities, I knew it had to be an integral part of our celebration. My husband, however - a Florida native with childhood memories of Jell-O brand products - couldn’t conceive of pudding as something special. Indeed, from an American perspective, tapioca and chocolate pudding is generally the domain of the cafeteria. I had to broaden his dessert horizons.
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