Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Roasting on an open fire...

...or, in this case, simmering on the stovetop hob; feijoada completa.

If you're not familiar with this stuff it's a stew of beans and meat. Originally from Portugal it is made in most of the former colonies, and in particular in Brazil it has become a sort of national dish, the Brazilian version of spaghetti in Italy or bratwurst in Germany.

There's about a gajillion recipes for feijoada, but they always start with a bean-and-stock base. I make the Brazilian version that starts with black beans. Usually I start them simmering in a turkey or chicken stock; this year's batch, though, was made largely in a spiced beef stock supplemented with commercial chicken stock and water.

Once the beans have softened I added the meats. This year I went with the pig; smoked hock, salt pork, and a sort of Portuguese sausage called linguisa you can find nearly everywhere. After that has a chance to simmer down a bit I added a couple of oranges. It's simmering now to ensure that the hocks soften and disaggregate so I can pick out the tough hide and the bones.

I've sampled it a couple of times this morning. That's part of the fun. It seems like it's going to turn out a little saltier and smokier that usual. Should be interesting; we'll see. I've made some batches that were outstanding, some that were kind of meh, and once one that was just awful and tasted strongly of horse. I have no idea why.

So far the stew, and setting up the tree, are the only real "holiday" sorts of things I've done. The kiddos have knocked out the usual Christmas school activities - gingerbread-house-making and Santa-image-drawing - and my Bride has been shopping for presents, but me? Nada.

Unchurched as I am the religious symbolism is nil, and now that I have an income the whole greed factor is much diminished. My family is all too far away to visit without the ridiculous discomfort of commercial air travel, and my children are of an age and a disposition where Santa is no longer a fact and Jesus is not yet a necessity.

Making matters worse the contrast between the idealized "Christmas spirit" and the reality of trying to shoehorn human nature into either a saint's slipper or a Santa boot just points up how awful we are as groups. People as individuals can be delightful; people en masse are typically wretched; I can't remember where I read that the intelligence of any group can be reliably assessed by dividing the intelligence of the smartest individual by the number of members...but I find that to be depressingly true in general.

Add to that the increasingly loathsome din of modern commercial Christmas and the whole business is really a pain in the giggy. Makes me want to just sing...

...but that's just me snarking. I don't actually feel stabby about The Season. Rather casual, occasionally irked, but largely indifferent. It's nice to have the time off work, it's pretty with the lights and the decorations...but overall? It's just another day approaching the end of another year.

But I hope you are all having a good...whatever you celebrate this time. May your dreidels have always turned up gimel. May your Umoja cup be full to overflowing. May your Christmas star shine brightly. May your solstice candle burn brightly through the longest night of the year. May your Festivus pole...do whatever the fuck poles are supposed to do, and may you have enjoyed a full and weaseliferous Zappadan.

Y'know what? Screw it; if the Christians can move their Savior's birth to December to fuck over the Mithraists then you can damn well dance to whatever festival tune you enjoy.

Back later this week with more Christmas crap.


Leon said...

Since my plan to sacrifice a bull to Mithras has been vetoed because of "health and safety" issues.

So instead I'll celebrate the pagan Merchandisemas again with my family.

Merry Christmas Chief.

Big Daddy said...

Hanukkah is in the rear view mirror, so I'm at work cursing a flaky server in Bangalore and listening to Neil Young. Our December 25 will involve enjoying empty roads and thanking our lucky stars the chosen people can get through the season with a $20 bill and a bag of chocolate coins.
But give my regards to the Cthonic spirits your tree is honoring :)

Sue said...

Happy Hogswatch, FDChief.

mike said...

Meri Kurisumasu Chief. I'm going with my own attempt at Finnan Haddie for Christmas Eve breakfast tomorrow. Although the wife and grandkids won't touch it. Don't the Portuguese have something similar? I know my Italian Aunt Rose used to make Bacala, but with a tomato base.