A Harte Appetite

Every Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Tom Harte shares a few thoughts on food and shares recipes. 

A founder of “My Daddy’s Cheesecake,” a bakery/café in Cape Girardeau, a  food columnist for The Southeast Missourian, and a cookbook author, he also blends his passion for food with his passion for classical music in his daily program, The Caffe Concerto.

Ways to Connect

flickr user William Cho (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

Every culture feeds on the belief that eating certain dishes on New Years Day brings good fortune. Perhaps the Chinese have the most New Years food rituals. They take two weeks to ring in the new year and during that time literally everything eaten is considered auspicious.

Having first domesticated the pig the Chinese consider pork to be a lucky food but they are hardly alone in that. The pig is a symbol of good fortune around the world. Perhaps because a family who owns one is guaranteed to eat well.

flickr user Amanda Slater (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

On Christmas Eve not even mice will be stirring, stockings will be carefully hung by chimneys, and children will be snugly nestled in their beds. Moreover, dancing in their heads will be visions of sugar plums.

flickr user Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Over seventy-five years ago Irving Berlin wrote what has become the most recorded song of all time: "White Christmas."   It’s easy to understand how Berlin, born in a town near Siberia, could feel nostalgic about a winter snowfall. 

Even those of us who grew up in temperate climates typically long for a white Christmas.  I know I do.  In my case, however, I am never disappointed.  That’s because regardless of the weather I know my Christmas will be a white one, a white chocolate one, that is.

flickr user Brad Greenlee (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Just about every country has a special dessert to mark the holidays.  But  none is as iconic as the classic French Yule log or Bûche de Noël.  It’s traditionally a filled and rolled sponge cake covered with chocolate buttercream which has been scumbled (that’s Julia Child’s term) to look like tree bark and bedecked with edible decorations, such as meringue mushrooms.

flickr user Marco Verch (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

If, like me, you think of Christmas as a time for cookies, you ought to be grateful to the Germans because they invented that custom. German lebkuchen the Cadillac, or should I say the Mercedes Benz of spice cookies, was probably the first cookie traditionally associated with Christmas. Lebkuchen may also very well be the oldest form of cookie know to human kind.