On Traditions Old and New

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In my experience, clever food is not appreciated at Christmas. It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous.”

- Jane Grigson, English cookbook author

Reading this quote last week, I felt torn. Part of me instinctively agrees with it, that Christmas is not a time to be trying many new things. We love our traditions, and gathering with family and friends gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to one another by keeping these traditions going, helping us remember times past by recreating them in the present.

And yet there's another part of me that loves to shake up the traditions and mix familiar elements into attempts at clever new dishes that will stimulate my palate and my imagination.

After Thanksgiving, for instance, I made ice cream studded with leftover cranberry sauce and chunks of dark chocolate. This was just familiar enough to feel seasonal, and yet it was not something I would have offered on Thanksgiving day, knowing it would have been met with raised eyebrows and polite queries of, "But where's the pie?"

Traditions can be life-affirming and home-warming; they can also be reminders of things in our past that we would prefer to forget, or ties that we would like to break. Are there food traditions that you've deliberately chosen not to carry on - as symbols of independence or new life? Are there others that you've decided to keep?

And are you more of a "clever food" cook at Christmas, delighting in challenging your family's palate with new things? Or do you love the comfort foods?

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Books & Media, Christmas

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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