Thursday, December 20, 2007

Culture Culinary Shock 101

"Egg Nog. Egg nog." I repeated. "Egg nog?" When I had finished repeating, I mused a bit ... "There are two types of egg nog: good nog and bad nog. Well, just like the little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead, when egg nog is good, it is very very good and when it is bad it is horrid."

Now if I had recorded this class and were to replay the tape before a college of pedagogical pundits, they would have had no difficulty or hesitation in identifying my piss-poor attempt at defining egg nog as the precise moment when I had lost the class.

Which was too bad because as far as classes go, this was an assemblage of rather brainy and hip individuals, and I had - rather erroneously - laboured under the assumption that it would take more than egg nog to ruffle their feathers.

Just moments before we were engrossed with José 's all-too graphic recounting of the one and only time he attended a pig-killing while visiting family in Galicia, in Spain's windswept northwest. This is an impeccably attired city-dweller who is not only blessed with an incredibly dry sense of humour but from whose pores oozes a razor-sharp sardonic wit. A meteorological marvel - wet or dry - Jose's a funny guy but not the type to revel in pig sticking. And he didn't. But he finished his anecdote by adding that after the pig was no more, everyone enjoyed a nice feed of blood pancakes.

"Blood pancakes?" I asked.
"More like crepes."
"Blood crêpes?" I asked.
"They're a speciality of the area."
"And they're red?" I asked.
"Are they sweet or savoury?" I asked.
"The ones I had were sweet."
"I'll bear that in mind next time I'm in Galicia and I see crêpes on the menu."
"They're really delicious."
"Sounds gross ... I'm sure they are, but being a vegetarian and all."

Fast forward to egg nog.

"... and when it is bad it is horrid."
"Yes, but what is it?" asked José - he whose feathers were least ruffled.
"It's a drink that we traditionally have at Christmas and New Year's although my father often made it for us as children throughout the year."
"Yes, but what's in it?" asked José.
"There are regional differences, but the staples are eggs, milk, cream, and sometimes sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Spiked versions usually see the welcomed addition of rum, brandy or whisky. When I make it, I use Kentucky bourbon."
"Are the eggs cooked?" asked José.
"In more contemporary recipes, eggs are partially cooked or heated through because of health concerns. This is bush league stuff. These are the same people who wash their hands after they handle chicken and routinely wipe down their countertops. As an Egg Nog Purist, I would never consider using anything but raw eggs."
"And do you actually drink it?" asked José.
"It's really delicious."
"It sounds gross."
"Gross? No, not at all ... hope you choke on a blood crêpe José."


knarf said...

President's Choice egg nog is the best commercial nog I've ever had, but all pale in comparison to Dad's...

(wistful smile)

La Gatita Gringa said...

And his blood crepes? Any wistful thoughts?

knarf said...

No, not so much.

Di Mackey said...

I thought of you ...

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