And for the perfect Christmas dinner…..Jowls!
OVERHEARD UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE: (By a 12-year old nephew): “That’s a nice nutcracker, but on most nutcrackers the paint is toxic. And you can’t crack nuts with them.”
Unless you are a confirmed Grinch or a hopeless contrarian, Christmas can be a wonderful time of the year. Colors everywhere, crowds abound, great music, picnics, parades…oh, wait, that’s the Fourth of July.
No seriously, I really love the Christmas season. In the spirit of FULL DISCLOSURE I am what would be called in most circles a “Non-Christian.” Meaning my religion doesn’t celebrate Christmas (unless you consider Chinese food and a movie “celebrating”). That said, I have a Catholic mother and a Catholic wife, and so I have always celebrated Christmas in my own special way.
My own special way includes presents and food. And family. With whom I share presents and food, of course.
Given multiple family obligations (and the semi-regular need to leave Bethel, Maine for a bit) I spend every Christmas with families in either Massachusetts or Connecticut (both states are finalists in the “Most Difficult State to Spell” contest). This year (by this I mean “right now”) I am with Andee’s family in New Haven. My family is the one from Mass (yes, in the spirit of FULL DISCLOSURE, I am what people in Maine would call a “Person From Massachusetts”).
FUN FACT ABOUT CONNECTICUT: The state is almost 2,000 square miles SMALLER than Aroostook County. It also has 48 times the population of “The County.”
New Haven, for those of you who have never visited, is a pretty cool small city with the “Best University in The Country That Rhymes with GRAIL” (right, Brooke Libby?). It also boasts the best pizza in the universe (http://sallysapizza.com), museums, funky stores, and a really nice green at the center of the city. There are restaurants, green spaces, theaters, even a beach; everything one could want in a vacation spot. So when I come to New Haven, at the first chance I make a beeline for my favorite place: Ferarro’s Market (http://www.ferraromarket.com/phototour.htm).
Still with me?
I love supermarkets. You can tell lots about a place by the food sold in the area. Heck, I sometimes choose my vacation stops based on what is sold in the hot sauce section of the local market. A trip to Ferarro’s is no exception. Here you can find some things that the people in the local Bethel supermarket have not even heard of. Okra? Aisle 3. Fatback? On the left, behind the lamb shank chops. Octopus? Depends, do you want fresh or frozen? Presiding over it all is a very loud butcher, offering a “special deal” with the purchase of cutlets (“I got NICE cutlets here- I’ll throw in my daughter and a Michael Bolton CD with ’em”). I have included below some totally un-doctored photos of a few of the Christmas dinner options that we ruled out while exploring the aisles.
Merry Christmas, and may your jowls be savory this year! Maybe next year we’ll go to Mississippi (winner, ten years in a row, of the “Most Fun State to Spell While Singing” award).