Eating Christmas

Taking the Gilt off the Gingerbread

Once again this year, Chow Bella writers are gnawing on the holidays -- in the form of stories of Christmas and food. Hope you have some Alka-Seltzer handy. Enjoy.

I feel obligated to create an elaborate December for my daughter.

When I was eight years old, my mother bought Martha Stewart's first Christmas book and she and I tried to create everything within its pages in just one month, which made for a beautiful, delicious--stressful--holiday season.

We dipped pinecones in scented wax for the fireplace. We baked gingersnaps, almond crescents, meringues, and two-tone, mint candy-cane cookies that we delivered to everyone in a three-block radius.

As we moved through the month, I didn't understand why one holiday dinner required so many stores, or why we needed to hunt down both red and green aluminum foil to dress up baked potatoes. But I embraced elaborate undertakings, like the Croquembouche -- cream puffs stacked in a Christmas-tree shape, encircled by a web of spun sugar.

Nothing topped our gingerbread mansion.

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Kathy West