Bon Temps Squirrel’s Christmas Celebration

We were invited to Bon Temps Squirrel’s wonderful Christmas party. Here is her account of the event.

Growing up in a large New Orleans family, food was always the center of every festivity, large or small. In fact, many times food was the sole reason for celebrating. As a child, I didn’t realize how unique it was to go with my dad to Captain Pete’s place and head to the back of the seafood shop to pick out OUR sack of oysters for the holiday dressing. As my Dad shucked each crusty mollusk one by one on his home-made marble oyster bar, we alternated throwing them in the bowl for the meal and eating them right off the half shell.

And let’s not forget so many of the other fine south Louisiana delicacies that we feasted on season by season — the huge gnarly looking but oh so juicy Creole tomatoes, the bright red Ponchatoula Strawberries, and the delicate blue soft-shelled crabs. I think you can see where I’m going with this — fresh, local, seasonal food — a reason to celebrate in and of itself. It was never a complete celebration without a good bottle of wine or a new twist on an old cocktail. And of course, a good celebration never runs out of either food or libations!

When I moved to Memphis over four years ago, I took my local New Orleans food traditions with me. There’s nothing more satisfying than planning an impressive menu, preparing food with friends, sparring not one calorie; heavy cream, butter — lots of butter — cheese and lots of passion and love go into each and every fine creation.

Indulging in the greatness of eating with others is a gift and a luxury that can not be replaced by any other activity; it’s a primal ritual that deserves the utmost reverence. How fortunate we are that this season provides us with the perfect back drop for complete submission.

This year, when I decided to have a larger than usual holiday gathering, I solicited a little help from my friends. We planned the carte du jour item by item and started cooking a week in advance.

The decadent menu consisted of filet mignon sliders with horseradish sauce and tomato jam, three cheese baked macaroni with toasted Panko bread crumbs, chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce, Mediterranean dips with pita bread, hand-rolled chocolate truffles, and white chocolate French bread pudding.

I am thankful for my rich food heritage and the joy it brings me to share it with others. This celebration was my tribute to the gift of food this holiday season. After all, what would the holidays be without it?

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