Friday, December 14, 2012

Joyeux Noël with Rita Lucero

Joyeux Noël

by Rita Lucero 
from Arsenic and Old Cake
http://www.jacklynbrady.com

Christmas is Christmas all over the world. At least that's what they tell me. And that may be true to some extent. No matter where I've been at Christmas, it's the season of giving and an incredibly busy time of year. We talk about peace on earth, and then forget all about being peaceful and drive ourselves crazy trying to make everything perfect. I'm determined not to do that this year, but time will tell if I'm successful or not.

For all the things we share at this time of year, we're also strikingly different in some ways. 

Luminarias 
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with its strong Hispanic culture. We're big on luminarias and we love strings of lights in the shape of chili peppers. Every family has different traditions. My family begins with the annual gathering of women, usually on a Saturday when people can take time away from work. We laugh, talk, sing, and make hundreds of tamales. Every year, we say we're making enough to last everyone the entire year. They're usually gone by Super Bowl.  


On Christmas Eve, we all trot off to Midnight Mass. When my cousins and I were kids, Aunt Yolanda threatened to skin us alive if we tried to get out of going. Of course, one of us always did, and it was usually Uncle Nestor. Then it's back home where everyone unwraps one gift before bed.  

Christmas morning starts the usual chaos, followed by Aunt Yolanda's Mexican Quiche for breakfast. Christmas dinner is a mix of traditional Mexican food and American. Uncle Nestor might cook a turkey or prime rib and we serve that with steaming pots of chili verde, chilies relleno, tamales, beans and homemade tortillas. There's more. Much, much more, but those are the staples I grew up with. 
Creole Street Lamp

It's different here in New Orleans. Reveillon dinner was traditionally served after midnight mass by earlier French settlers. Though many restaurants have "updated" the tradition and serve dinner during regular dinner hours, my mother-in-law and business partner, Miss Frankie adheres to the old ways  religiously. This year's menu includes braised pork belly with Gulf shrimp, oyster chowder and pecan bread pudding. 

Don't tell Miss Frankie, but I might bring some chili verde just to round out the meal. 


I'd love to hear about your traditions for the holidays! 


Arsenic and Old Cake
A Piece of Cake Mystery #3
by Jacklyn Brady 

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50 comments:

  1. Yum... chili!

    Debbie
    kagashi(at)fmtc(dot)net

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  2. I used to make a breakfast quiche for Christmas morning. It was sort of a kitchen sink type quiche and I usually had enough filling to make three or four.

    Beverly aka Booklady

    bevarcher at me dot come

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  3. A Dutch Christmasdinner is more about the more expensive kinds of dishes. Like red meats, or dear, rabbit, pheasant, that kind of things. With elegant side dishes, things done with potatoes, and different kinds of vegetables. And of course a choice of tasty deserts. But most of this is store bought, not homemade from scratch. You have to stand in the kitchen long enough as it is already, and the cook also deserves to mingle and enjoy him/herself.

    Breakfast is luxury small breads, and again more expensive kinds of spreads. And of course the special stuffed Christmas bread. Both the meat and cheesy variaty and the sweet stuffs. A boiled egg, and juice. It is not really a hot meal here.

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  4. How interesting....and, NONE of what you talked about sounded familiar to me at all! We go to church, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day but wow! You didn't even mention the Mexican Wedding Cake cookies --- that I learned some 50 years ago in my Spanish class were part of the holiday! But, it does sound like fun and have a Merry, merry Christmas! Thanks for sharing with us!
    Lynn/MI

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  5. would so love to be entered for this giveaway!!!!
    thank you!!!!

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  6. A tradiron we have is we open 1 gift a piece on Christmas Eve.

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  7. We always go to my aunt's house on Christmas Eve evening. It is a tradition that I can't remember not doing. When I was a child that often meant going to bed and trying to fall asleep so Santa would come, but having a difficult time because I was hopped up on sugar and often had a tummy ache from eating too much! :)

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  8. A tradiron we have is we open 1 gift a piece on Christmas Eve.

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  9. A tradiron we have is we open 1 gift a piece on Christmas Eve.

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  10. A tradiron we have is we open 1 gift a piece on Christmas Eve.

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  11. Sounds like a fun! Will be looking for your books!

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  12. Great read. Whoever wins will enjoy this book. Do not enter me in this contest. Already own this book.

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  13. My family does a tacky light tour each year. We drive around in our own car and try to find the houses listed on the news channel in the area. Lots of fun.
    Sandy 2012

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  14. We traditionally eat a spaghetti dinner after church on Christmas Eve and then open up family gifts. Kzlin@aol.com

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  15. We go to my sister in law's on XMAS eve and then we go to my father's for brunch on XMAS day. We always have a sausage, egg and cheese casserole, so yummy!

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  16. Christmas Eve candlelight service at church, driving around to see Christmas lights, and then home for Christmas cookies before going to bed so that Santa would come... Those were the days!

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  17. Each year when the kids were little they would come running in to our bedroom and jump on the bed and say merry christmas. the best christmas ever. Miss those days. Now I just hope they make memories just like i did. And the best christmas is when the kids thought a gift was for me and was for them. It was something they both wanted and could play.

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  18. All these traditions sound so great. Yes, you're right, Lynn, I forgot to mention the cookies -- my very favorites of all. I was just trying not to get too long-winded :) I love driving around to look at lights, too but it seems that the number of houses with lights gets smaller every year.

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  19. When we were small my parents would take us to our grandparents house to gather presents and food. All our cousns would be there, what a fun time

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  20. When we were kids we used to go to my aunt's house on Christ,as morning.

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  21. The kids always opened one package on Christmas Eve - new pajamas!

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  22. My mom always makes banana bread on XMAS and I look forward to it each year. I've made it myself but it's not the same! My sister's birthday falls on XMAS day so we always have a birthday cake to go along with the XMAS treats.

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  23. Taking the drive to look at Christmas lights and enjoying hot chocolate while decorating the tree.....

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  24. One present Christmas eve and everything else the next morning.

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  25. I prefer the Hispanic food choices rather than the ones mentioned for New Orleans-seafood's just not my thing. I lost most of my traditions as I work holidays. I'll celebrate with my parents the Saturday before-but the holiday itself is just another day at work.

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  26. Wearing a different glitter sweater in school for the last twelve days of class.

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  27. Purchase special present for each cat which they receive on Christmas morning to keep them occupied. Read that as hopefully not tearing up presents or tree.

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  28. Since one of us got sick on Christmas morning from eating candy out of our stocking my Mom made us eat breakfast before we could open presents. Now many years later I still maek my kids eat breakfast before they can open presents. At 17 and 15 this year I don't think I'll have anyone trying to wake me up at 6am to eat so they can open presents!

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  29. My husband and I will get up early and open the stockings at the end of our beds then into the living room for to open presents while having hot chocolate in front of the open fire.

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  30. We open our gifts on Christmas Eve.

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  31. When my children were small, one gift on Christmas Eve.....and the decision on which one to open was always a production right up there with Ben Hur by Cecil B DeMille.

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  32. Make special cookies that we only make once a year! Yum!
    Patti Smith

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  33. Mmmm, I love Mexican food and the quiche sounds good. I love to eat pumpkin pie and open presents on Christmas Eve. I go shopping the day after X-mas.

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  34. Oyster stew on Christmas Eve.

    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  35. When my children were younger we always baked cookies together. Have now doing this with my granddaughter.

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  36. We always have pizza and go to church on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, we go to my mother's house and have a big dinner with everyone and open presents.

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  37. Our tradition is to enjoy whatever comes up, and it's usually different every year since our kids and grandkids are spread all up and down the east. Someone (or more) usually makes it home for the holidays. (I'd love to win your book. Looks good!)

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  38. Our tradition we watch charlie brown christmas as we put up the christmas tree.

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  39. One of my family's old traditions is to go to church on Christmas Eve, and when we get home, drink hot cocoa and/or egg nog, watch Christmas Vacation, and laugh our butts off! :)

    Thanks for an awesome giveaway!

    Marie
    songbird1613 at yahoo dot com

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  40. Christmas may be Christmas all over the world, but the traditions vary, which I find fascinating. For instance in Australia you will find more fruit & salads at a Christmas dinner rather than hot fare.

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  41. I love this title! Thank you for hosting this giveaway.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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  42. Our Christmas traditions consist of opening presents on Christmas Eve and only have meat, cheese and cheeseball for dinner no real meal on Christmas Eve. Thank you for the chance to win.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

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  43. Every year we make cheesecakes - but not the kind you're thinking about. It's more like a perogie made with cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, and a pinch of cinnamon for the filling. I know it sounds weird, and it is definitely an aqquired taste, but we love them. My family makes up a huge batch right before Thanksgiving and then we freeze (most of) them to use at all of our holiday meals.

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  44. We decorate the tree together.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  45. WE live in Alamogordo, NM, so we have a lot in common. The book sounds like a great read and will be adding to the to be read list. Thank you for sharing and blessings, Susan Fryman susanngarrylee@yahoo.com

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  46. I love all of your answers! I've had a great time reading about your Christmas traditions. Thank you so much for sharing! We'll announce the winner of today's giveaway tomorrow. Good luck all!

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  47. Traditions were traditional English-Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding for Xmas Eve, open one package, early Xmas breakfast in PJ's with breakfast then presents-prepare a lovely Ham dinner with all the trimmings. We loved spending the day together as a family. Now parents are dead and I am without familly so my new tradition is a Xmas trip to where I want, no crowds, no presents and no stress. Enjoy your families everyone, they will not be with you fo long. I always wanted to read these books, they are on my TBR list

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  48. Our tradition is listening to the steam whistles play Christmas carols at midnight Christmas morning. An eerie yet beautiful sound thay can be heard for miles across the county.

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