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December 25, 2008

A Merry Owl Meatmas

Meatmas.bmpIt's always scary when our friend Owl Meat's regular Funtastic Thursday post happens to fall on a kinder, gentler day like Christmas. But here he is, mellower than usual. Perhaps he's gotten into the eggnog. EL

Here at stately Owl Manor, we have eschewed the usual sturm und drang, weltschmerz and schadenfreude today and have given in to Christmas - Owl Meat style.  The result is a feast that combines the Mexican and German parts of my family.
First up is El Vez doing a killer version of Feliz Navidad.  If you don't love this video, you have no soul.  For those not familiar with El Vez, he is the Mexican Elvis and he LOVES Christmas.  Does it get any better than Melvis dancing with a giant inflatable Santa and Frosty, while his band lays down some chunky Ramones-style thrash?  I want his suit.  

The Germans have an interesting character named Krampus.  Krampus is Saint Nick's evil assistant.  He is bad cop to Santa's good cop.  Krampus Night is celebrated on December 5, the eve of Saint Nick's birthday.   So what does Santa's assistant do?  He, meaning any able-bodied man, roams the streets sometimes wielding a small birch tree branch and wears a scary mask to frighten children, Halloween-style.
Now how do we combine such seemingly non-intersecting cultures and traditions at Christmas?  With food, of course. ...

No Mexican Christmas would be complete without the special pork tamales.  What makes them special?  The addition of one or more secret ingredients, which I think is cinnamon and rabbit.  One can never be sure.  Tio Toro always brings his guacamole with mango and some amazing ceviche to celebrate his roots in Veracruz.  The best of all is his ceviche de pulpo - citrus marinated octopus.  Mmmm... que bueno.
The German part of the feast is short on tradition and long on meat.  Cousins Dieter and Elsebeth grill something Dieter has recently bagged on a bow hunting trip.  In the past we have had elk, bear, and Canadian snowshoe hares (with a bow?).  Elsebeth's bear paw soup was delicious and not at all frightening.  Naturally there is homemade sauerkraut and a fermented beet juice that has purported rejuvenating qualities.
Another thing that unites both sides of the family is beating something with a stick.  Since Krampus is not known here and would likely get them locked up, we have allowed the German side to make their own version of the piñata.  Last year it was stuffed with homemade venison jerky and gherkins.  I guess we will have to wait to see if Uncle Klaus and cousin Dieter's hunting trip to Canada was successful.  The form of the piñata will be of whatever public figure has aggrieved them most this year.  It could be anyone from Rod Blagojovich to Hugh Jackman or even Billy Mays.
Of course the evening always ends with drinking and dancing.  Uncle Flaco acts as DJ, spinning vinyl copies of his favorite Norteño music, which sounds like Mexican polka to me.  The night usually ends with Great Uncle Fritz announcing Archimedes-in-the-bathtub style that the Mexicans stole their music from the Germans, as if he just discovered this.  But harmony prevails, as bellies are full of elk jerky and pork tamales as El Vez rips into "Feliz Navidad" again.
Frohe Weihnachten de Carne de Buho.

(Merry Christmas from Owl Meat.) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 3:53 PM | | Comments (56)


Boy, Owlie, a little El Vez goes a long, long way. But have a merry little Christmas, anyway.

Well, that's one concert ticket that I won't be buying. I don't like Elvis, and the Mexican Elvis is even more revolting!
However Owl, that was a mellow post from you. Christmas is an amazing holiday, isn't it...
Have a Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and anything else that anyone is celebrating!

Here is a piece of our family tradition (at least since 1990) -- a poem that is occasionally reprinted at Colonial Williamsburg on an antique press. I offer it with gratitude to my friends in the sandbox, and especially to OMG, whose fondness for foodie poetry is surely not apocryphal! (And please imagine this in that old typeface where s and f are shaped so similarly.)

Christmas is come, hang on the Pot,
Let Spits turn round and Ovens be hot
to feast thy Neighbors at this Tide
And so with Mirth conclude the Year.

Now Christmas comes, 'tis fit that we
Should feast and sing, and merry be
Keep open House, let Fiddlers play
A Fig for Cold, sing Cares away
And may they who thereat repine
On brown Bread and on small Beer dine.

When New Year's Day is past and gone;
Christmas is with some People done;
But further some will it extend,
And at Twelth Day their Christmas end.
Some People stretch it further yet,
At Candlemas they finish it.
The Gentry carry it further still
And finish it just when they will;
They drink good Wine and eat good Cheer
And keep their Christmas all the Year.

May you all be blessed as Gentry, and give a care for the brown bread and small beer crowd.

On a bizzare level, I rather enjoy a good Elvis impersonator. And, foriegn impersonators just bring more oddity to the formula. Hope everyone had a Feliz Navidad - and no one is suffering too badly today with Pepto Bismal type ailments!

A little El Vez does indeed go a long way. It was my intention to serve up something mellow, but even with good intentions I still had to do a lot of editing. You can see the original draft that was more Krampus-centric at Owl Meat Apocrypha. It's more, urrh, pagan in tone. Plus lots of meaningless umlauts just for fun.

OMG ... before my brother went pro and then lobbiest, his home brewery operation was named (and imagine the graphic here) umlaut schwa.

MD, he clearly appreciates gratuitous diacriticals. !BrävÖ¡

Owlie, did you have bourbon in the eggnog?

No eggnog for me. And I like my bourbon [oh no, here he goes] like I like my women ... oh I have no joke there.

Owl - "straight" of course! The same way I like 'em... (stopping going to get in trouble)

So, Joyce, you are running the local recruiting station?

Hey, I want a chance to win my toaster oven!

How is Bourbon Girl by the way? Have not heard from her in awhile.

No ma'am, Lissa. Just talkin Bourbon.

And, hope you're well and happy holidays, BG!

Darn, Joyce. Guess I'll have to keep looking for where I'm supposed to report.

(Folks, it is a very old joke, dating to at least the time of the Lavender Menace purges at NOW. Neither Joyce nor I are recruiting.)

Lissa - laughing!

Lissa? NOW, as in, Betty Freidan/Bella Abzug/Gloria Steinem? They purged lavender? Truly? Because, one used to hear things....

Of course, the Haters - those who despised "Libbers" - made remarks, but there were other Accepted Truths, as it (they) were....

Eve, that is why they purged folks. The very rumour of Sapphic tendencies was enough to give NOW the vapours. It was a bit before my time, but was still remembered with great hate when it became my time.

I still can't take NOW seriously.

I took NOW very seriously back in the early days. They had some very important issues. I must have been distracted by small children and moving my household back & forth across country about the time of the purging.

... without feminism there would be no Sarah Palin...

True, habibi, but I doubt that Palin would describe herself as a feminist, or call herself my sister. For which I am eternally grateful, come to think of it.

Eve, NOW had some very important issues. Then...they had a bad case of the booboisee. I mean, they purged Rita Mae Brown. Who on earth would purge her?

Owl, if it weren't for the bad, you wouldn't appreciate the good.

I doubt that Palin would describe herself as a feminist

An amazing number of modern young women seem to be unaware of what the feminist movement did for them.

Maybe that's a good sign, but I kind of doubt it.

Hal, just as the feminists of my day were unaware of what the Suffragettes did for us.

I'd be thrilled to be beyond feminism if it didn't seem to just be the same dish, executed with more subtlety.

An amazing amount of modern young women could use a renewed refueled feminist movement. Where are the Betty Friedans, or yes, Rita Mae Browns of today?''

Dahlink - dead on!

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Few people appreciate the past when they are young. Blacks don't appreciate what the Civil Rights Movement brought them; young women don't appreciate what the Feminist Movement brought them...
I tell my daughter and her friends that when I was in high school I couldn't wear pants until 11th grade. Even then, it had to be pants suits (remember the ugly polyester pantsuits?). It wasn't until 12th grade that I got to wear the jeans, flannel shirts and dashikis of the hippie movement.
And don't get me started on the stupid career aptitude tests. If you were female, you were pointed towards teaching, nursing. or secretarial work.
You also got to take home economics, even if you would rather have taken shop.
However, when I tell my daughter and her friends, they immediately place me in the era of the dinosaurs.
Oh well...

Well, democracy paved the way for Hitler. Most people would be surprised to learn that HItler was elected. Democracy sucks.

I'm not sure how you jumped from feminism to democracy, Owlie. Nor is this a democracy, it is a republic.

Aristocracy brought us such lovely events as the Inquisition, the Terror and the Crusades, so that didn't work out so well, either.

Libertarianism brought us the last 8 years of rich people plundering the economy.

Yes, Hitler was elected, but much of the Weimar Republic was an open civil war between the fascists and the left, and the military prefered the fascists.

Not to say something like that couldn't happen here, but I don't think it'd be feminism's fault.

I wasn't equating feminism with anything really. I just wanted to point out that there are unintended consequences to any change.

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Aristicracy led to ever more freedom over time. Democracy in the United States in the last thirty years has led to a decrease in freedoms. People are too stupid to be allowed to participate in democracy.

Wow--now this is a segue!

Joyce W., one of my friends in college used to say If it weren't for the bad, you wouldn't appreciate the good, and at the time it really irritated me. The older I get the more true and profound it seems.

Cosmo Girls, you can tell the young ones that in my first real job, we were only allowed to wear pantsuits in case of very inclement weather--otherwise it was all skirts, all the time.

Eh, this isn't the place for that fight, Owlie. I have a feeling you are defining people as "people just like me". I'm defining it more as "people who aren't like me."

Besides, the Borgias did not single-familied produce the Renaissance.

Parliaments were invented by the Icelanders. They had this interesting idea that the law applied to everyone.

If it weren't for the bad, you wouldn't appreciate the good

Oh puh-leeeze. I like to hit my hand with a hammer because it feels so good when I stop.

I can fully appreciate a fine steak without having to experience rotting badger meat that someone found outside the orphanage.

Everything hapens for a reason.

Things come in threes.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

(Screeeeeech.... accidental segue into today's Owl Meat Apocrypha which is surprisingly hateful or possibly fearful of the motives of clouds.

... that's right, I'm not ending that parenthetical thought, so everything today will be at least one level deeper than usual.

Hillary Clinton still wears those pantsuits.

An amazing amount of modern young women could use a renewed refueled feminist movement. Where are the Betty Friedans, or yes, Rita Mae Browns of today?''

Joyce, when I was in HS in NJ, girls were "allowed" to aspire to 3 "jobs"
1. Nurse
2. Teacher
3. Secretary.

It was almost funny, the number of young women who "planned" to be English teachers and then snuck off to law school. Biology teacher to Med School was a tougher trick. I only know one person who succeeded. One of my friends planned to be an architect but she wasn't allowed to take drafting. (Drafting was a boys subject. Girls wouldn't understand it.) Ultimately, her father - the town judge - sued the township AND the school board to get her into the class.

Only boys played HS sports. I grew up on the playground shootin' hoops with the guys. When I got to HS, I was told that my role was to wear a little short skirt, wave pompons and yell, "Yay!" My daughter-the-jock thought I was making that up. One summer, she called from Field Hockey camp here in MD to say that a teammate was using her mother's stick. Daughter suggested that maybe I just hadn't noticed girls sports in my own HS? Turns out, the other mother went to Oldfields.

Dahlink, in my first job, we were not allowed to wear pants anytime. If the company was open, we were to be wearing a skirt. And boots were to be changed for "decent" (read, high heeled) shoes.

Eve, do you think the old dress codes were designed to sell sheer stockings? (I remember those instruments of torture, girdles and garter belts, too!)

Owl, you are grumpier than usual. Did you get coal in your stocking? If not, I have some I'd gladly send you (don't worry--it's "clean coal").

Eve, you left out librarian.

When I was first sucked into the vocation that is working in public libraries, I felt guilty for going into a traditionally female field, rather than continuing to drive cabs or buses, work in public safety, be in the military, work in factories or any of the other "non-traditional" jobs I'd done.

Lissa, in my neighborhood, Librarian was always preceded by the words, "Old Maid". Besides, there was that "shhhhhh..." thing. I was chronically in detention for giggling in the library. Possibly why that option was never suggested to me.

Lissa, I know what you mean. While I didn't feel guilty for becoming a nurse I did experience a certain amount of pushback. I guess it was a countercultural profession to pursue in the early 1980s.

I don't know, Lissa--the old librarian hair in a bun stereotype is pretty outdated, don't you think? The librarians I work with are a very diverse group, in every possible way (except intelligence--no dummies in this crowd).

Yes, Lissa you are right. Librarian was right up there with nurse, secretary and teacher. My father actually told me that being a teacher was a good "second" income. I think he sent me to college to get my Mrs. degree. I'm actually sorry now I didn't just up and join the military despite what my parents wanted - I'd be retired now!

Eve and Dahlink, I had a lime green pants suit. Polyester double knit of course. Remember "sensible" shoes?

Joyce W., my one and only pantsuit from that era was navy wool--very somber and well suited to a library! Of course I could only wear it when the temperature was before freezing, so it had to be heavy.

And my shoes are still "sensible"!

Dahlink, while I was completing my AB, I drove a van for a library conference a friend was hosting.

When I mentioned my tweed skirted suit, sensible shoes and sudden desire to put my hair in a bun, she threatened to shave my skull if I did that. Her partner gleefully offered me money if I'd let her put my hair in a bun.

That was 25 years ago.

I think a lot of folks still do have that stereotype. A couple times a year, someone tells me I'm too loud to be a librarian (I'm not a librarian, I dropped out of library school, although I have had the job title). Frequently, these are the same folks who think libraries are quiet, though.

Lissa - it appears that the old image is still pretty intact:

Librarian by My Morning Jacket

Walk across the courtyard, towards the library.
I can hear the insects buzz and the leaves 'neath my feet...

Ramble up the stairwell, into the hall of books...
Since we got the interweb these hardly get used.

Duck into the men's room... combing thru my hair...
When god gave us mirrors he had no idea...

Looking for a lesson in the periodicals...
There I spy you listening to the AM radio...

Karen of the carpenters- singing in the rain...
Another lovely victim of the mirror's evil way.

It's not like you're not trying, with a pencil in your har
To defy the beauty the good lord put in there...

Simple little bookworm- buried underneath...
Is the sexiest librarian... take off those glasses and let down your hair for me.

So I watch you thru the bookcase- imaging a scene:
You and I at dinner, spending time, then to sleep.

And what then would I say to you- lying there in bed?
These words, with a kiss, I would plant in your head:

"what is it inside our heads that makes us do the opposite?
Makes us do the opposite of what's right for us?
Cause everything'd be grrreat... and everything'd be good...
If everybody gave... like everybody could."

Sweetest little bookworm. hidden underneath...
Is the sexiest librarian...
Take off those glasses and let your hair down for me.
Take off those glasses and let your hair down for me.

Simple little beauty- heaven in your breath.
The simplest of pleasures- the world at it's best.

I do like the mention about Karen of the Carpenters...

Urp. The sexy librarian stereotype. That one, I have *nothing* to do with.

When I was a kid, it was gym teachers...

I remember when "sensible shoes" was a euphenism.

Eve - a euphenism for what? This is one I've never heard before.

Joyce - About 15 - 20 years ago, "the lady wears sensible shoes" seemed to imply Sapphic tendencies. (I had to climb back up the posts to find that phrase that Lissa used) It was usually spoken by truly gentlemanly types who appeared not to want to frighten(?) alarm(?) confuse(?) one with the concept.

I remember when "sensible shoes" was a euphenism.

For what?

Oh, man--who knew about all those sweet little old ladies with their sensible shoes?

Eve, I missed that one. How embarrassing. Makes sense, though.

Of course, I *always* wear sensible shoes.

Joyce, when I was in HS in NJ, girls were "allowed" to aspire to 3 "jobs"

You forgot prostitute and dental hygienist.

... and beautician and telephone operator and stewardess and waitress and hat check girl. Really, there were way more than three options. Avon lady, school lunch lady, crossing guard, cigarette girl in a swanky nightclub, matron in a women's prison, dominatrix, sales girl in a store, model, actress, washer woman, ...

Actually, the woman down the street was a prison matron. She was widowed several times during my formative years. My father - many people still believe that John Wayne used him as a role model - called her "Ma'am"

Although stewardesses were referred to as "flying waitresses", an aunt of mine tried to be one in the early 50s. She was too short (5' 2") and not a registered nurse.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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