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Christmas Cookie Martini

Consumed by Carrie: New Orleans’ Holiday Traditions


Roosevelt Hotel Holiday Lights

Roosevelt Hotel Holiday Lights

As you might expect, Christmas is New Orleans has special traditions; it’s not so different from other parts of the country — but it definitely has a unique flavor! There are pralines and pecans pouring out of every corner, beautiful light displays in City Park, complete with a Cajun Santa Claus with alligators pulling his sleigh. There are Christmas Eve bonfires that reach high into the sky, lighting up the banks of the Mississippi and caroling on the streetcars and into Jackson Square. 

My favorite thing to do is to go see the beautiful decorations at the elegant Roosevelt Hotel. While at the Roosevelt, I stop by the famous Sazerac Bar for a festive holiday cocktail – one of my past highlights is the festive Christmas Cookie Martini. 

Christmas Cookie Martini

But lets get to one of the best parts of Christmas in New Orleans, the FOOD!

One of the earliest signs (and oldest traditions) that the holiday season is right around the corner is the Reveillon Menu. Reveillon is French and means awakening. This title was given to the meal that was typically served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. It was meant to give nourishment and energy for the next mass early on Christmas morning.  You will see Reveillon menus at a lot of the best restaurants in town; Restaurant August, Bayona, Commander’s Palace, Domenica, and dozens more.

The menus are usually made up of three courses and are served throughout November and December. First courses usually include something with oysters, turtle soup or gumbo.  Commander’s palace is featuring a chargrilled oyster stew, and Antoine’s menu has Alligator Bisque. I noticed that a popular choice for the second course is dishes using small birds such as quail or squab. There is of course always a fish option, and also pork or veal. Braised meats are prevalent, pork shanks at Domenica, short ribs at Café Adelaide, and veal osso bucco at Brennan’s. Some restaurants go the celebratory route, pulling out all of the stops with caviar, foie gras, lamb, and special cocktails. I have to say that I’m partial to the time-honored traditional menus that stay true to New Orleans cuisine.

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Five Reasons Why I Love Being Curvy

1. I now realize that my body’s curves express a balanced life.  It is not only about appreciating certain anatomical curves —the standard ones the outside world tells me are acceptable— it is about embracing each and every curve and how they co-exist, come and go. The ebb and flow of my curves helps me power through a 35-miles bike ride or stick with poses during a tough Pilates class.  Nice to realize this at nearly 58 years old.

2. My curves help me to not buy into weird food games. I love food as both nourishment and recreation. By embracing my curves I gravitate toward real food, not junk. Nor do I under eat or deprive myself to try to squeeze into a shape that is not mine. Cooking real food is a joy in my life, as is eating, drinking and appreciating culinary delights from creative chefs. To reap the most profit, the big food companies own the major diet “programs” and products. I’ve been there but I won’t go back – the Big Food diet companies won’t get one more dime from me.

3. My curves show that I am proud of the fullness of a healthy body and I don’t buy into rampant body dissatisfaction. A friend just asked me: “What would it be like if we all loved our bodies completely?” She celebrates her “curvalicious” body and is setting a remarkable example for her two teen sons as she proudly rocks comfy clothing while dancing joyfully in her backyard.

Alternatively, I have another friend who suffers from eating and body issues. She spends her valuable summer time consulting with five plastic surgeons, and is about to undergo major procedures. I am convinced she has body dysmorphia, a mental illness symptomized by perpetual negative thoughts about appearance, and obsessions with minor or imagined flaws. She is a beautiful woman; I fear that plastic surgery will likely never make her truly happy about herself.

4. My man loves my curves and has never criticized my shape. Unlike past men in my life, he only uses the word “thick” or “doughy” if he is talking about pizza. Yum.

5. My curves harken back to my hearty heredity. I am proud of my Eastern European ancestry. My grandmother cooked a fantastic peasant dish: rolled cabbage stuffed with pork, and tomatoes and rice. As a little girl, Grandma Sylvia’s curves comforted and  welcomed me while I smelled the spicy aromas that she magically created from the most simple of staples.

So, do as my curvy daughter is doing right now: stop purchasing women’s magazines with their silly diet tips and makeovers. Show some skin on the beach this summer and wear your bikini proudly.

Curves rule!

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