I love the holidays! It finally snowed in our area of the country, and the temperatures are getting cold enough that perhaps there’s a chance for a white Christmas and New Year’s. The holiday retail activities are in full swing, so your chances of getting some great deals on a new something are pretty high. Music is in the air. People generally are happier, more giving, more optimistic, and more inclined to have positive food experiences during the holidays.
Oh, and then there’s the food, of course!
I love trying new dishes (those that I make myself and the culinary creations of others)! If at no other time, people seem to be more inclined during the holidays to whip out the recipe book or dig through a drawer to find a family recipe. Maybe it’s the fact that the year is coming to a close, or the music and lighting are just right, or they just need to cook up some comfort food. The joy of food takes over.
The Joy of Food
Food in itself can be a joy. Food tastes good and stimulates the taste buds. Combining food with family and friends and interaction creates an adventure of the whole food experience. Food can be an adventure if you choose to make it fun and explore and find new things and to learn and do. Life has many aspects of adventure. By bringing the different aspects together, you create an experience and a memory.
The overall intent is to make a connection between the food and your experiences.
You are creating memories associated with food. It has everything to do with the quality of life: good food, good experiences, memories, and joy. Food is a part of life. You can mix food with the joys of life to create a positive food experience.
Here are 5 ways to have positive food experiences during the holidays:
1. Gather ideas.
Think about what you want to eat. Get feedback from friends, family members, or others with whom you eat about what they want to make and eat during the holidays. Holiday recipes can be found all over the web from sites like All Recipes, Food Network, Delish, and others. Local news channels often feature a chef cooking a holiday recipe as a part of their show. Libraries and bookstores often have entire sections devoted to holiday cookbooks. The options are as limitless as your creativity (and grocery store) can carry you.
2. Learn to cook with new foods.
We often run across something we haven’t cooked with. During a recent trip to France, for example, we ate Kumquats with several types of dishes. We enjoyed them so much that we are now in search of them in specialty grocery stores and we are seeking out fun recipes to make with them.
Another example is the Durian fruit. I first saw the fruit a few weeks back at the grocery store. Upon first look, the fruit is rather unsightly. After researching culinary uses of the fruit, we decided it would be fun to try it in a salad or other dish.
In many cases, it may not be such an extreme food as a Durian fruit. However, you can expand your knowledge by opening your eyes to different possibilities. How you define “new foods” is up to you. To one person a new food may be mangoes; to another person it may be Italian sausage. Try something you have never cooked with before and see how it goes.
3. Put a new twist on old favorites.
How can you put some zip into your cheesy potatoes? What if you add something new to your standby chicken soup recipe? How can you turn up the excitement on traditional comfort foods? If you have your favorites, but are starting to get into a rut eating them, then it’s time to put some zing into the meal. How can you tweak your favorite dish to go from ordinary to extraordinary?
4. Cook as a group.
Cook together as a family. Get a bunch of friends together. Invite your siblings over to make Mom’s famous recipe. A good friend of mine taught herself to cook by getting together with friends and trying new dishes.
A rather unique example is a friend of ours who has established a fun and very social annual tradition. She literally bakes about 1,000 Christmas sugar cookies, and then invites a big group of friends and neighbors over to decorate the cookies. She has the basic cookie ready in advance (to make the logistics easier). People can then bring their creativity and have fun decorating while they socialize and get to know others in the process.
It’s exciting for those who come over to decorate the cookies. They come away with great memories of the event: the anticipation of meeting new people, the smell of freshly baked cookies as they walk in the door, and being able to use their creativity in decorating the cookies.
It’s also very fulfilling for the person hosting the event. She attends to every detail as she spends time baking a great many cookies and preparing each one for decorating. She feels the excitement of pulling everyone together for a fun event. We’re not sure what she does with the cookies afterward, but this activity helps to bring people together (literally and figuratively).
5. Share recipes.
Recipe exchanges are growing in popularity. From formal community events such as the Multicultural Recipe Exchange event held in Vancouver, British Columbia to online exchanges such as the Capitol Corridor’s Holiday Recipe Exchange, it’s fun and easy to share a recipe as well as learn about a new one. You can even host your own exchange with your friends, family, or neighborhood.
Food helps you pull the different aspects of life together. If you do it right, can be extremely good for you and healthy such that you can continue to have those experiences throughout the year. Positive food experiences can make life that much sweeter.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: In what ways can you have positive food experiences during the holidays?