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Monday, November 22, 2021

Author Guest Post - Amy Pershing

Please welcome Amy Pershing to M&MM blog.  She is a new author with the equally new Cape Cod Foodie cozy mystery series.  My review will be coming shortly.

The Eternal Mystery of Weird Holiday Food by Amy Pershing

Holiday food traditions – we all have them. Whether we like them or not. You mess with your mother’s Christmas cookie recipes at your peril. You serve Uncle Harry’s oyster stew, even though it makes your kids gag, because you love Uncle Harry. You stuff dates with chunky peanut butter as an appetizer (really?), because your husband (whom you also love, even though during the holidays that’s sometimes hard to remember) made them with his mother on Christmas day “to help out.”

In my latest Cape Cod Foodie mystery, An Eggnog to Die For, my heroine, Samantha Barnes, wants to honor her Italian grandmother on Christmas Eve with the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes. Except Sam wants to make it a Feast of the Five Fishes. As she puts it, “Okay, so traditionally it’s seven fishes or even twelve. But times have changed. The holidays are stressful enough. Christmas Eve should be fun.”

Now, you may think that eating five, or seven or, god forbid, twelve fishes in one sitting to be, let us say, a bit odd. But it pales beside this (highly subjective) list of other peculiar holiday food traditions:

1) Pfeffernuse: I begin with the worst offender of the Christmas cookie obsession -- the pfeffernusse. First of all because it is impossible to spell. Or say. And second, because a key ingredient is pepper. In what cookie world does that make sense? Also, my husband claims that because the cookie is virtually coated with powdered sugar, “before you can even eat it, you breathe that stuff in and then choke to death.”

2) Eggnog: As the author of a novel with eggnog in the title, I have gotten an earful from my readers about the great eggnog debate, yae or nay. I’m pleased to say most are yae. Mostly because it is dessert masquerading as a before-dinner drink, as Sam points out in the book:

“I wish I’d made enough for two glasses each,” my mother said, smacking her lips in a decidedly un-regal fashion.

“No way,” I admonished her. “First of all, I’m not killing everyone’s appetites with what is essentially dessert in a glass and second of all, two rum cocktails and we’d never get this tree trimmed.”

“Nonsense,” Helene put in from her seat on the sofa next to my mother. “Drink up.”

I’m with Helene.

3) Latkes: On the plus side of holiday foods, we have the Hannukkah starter of latkes –potato pancakes fried in oil and served with sour cream. Yum. But I’d never quite understood why so much of the traditional Hannukkah foods are cooked in oil until researching this piece, when I discovered that it symbolizes the Second Temple oil that miraculously lasted eight days. Not that I’m complaining about all that frying. I’d eat an old boot if it was deep-fried.

4) Roast Goose: With so many choices for the centerpiece of the Christmas day feast – roast beef, turkey, even ham – why would you go for roast goose? I mean, aside from the fact that roast goose is delicious. My mother once decided to cook a goose for Christmas, only to come back into the kitchen to

a waterfall of goose fat streaming from the stove. That’s right – a five pound goose releases more than four cups of melted fat. So unless you want to drain the roasting pan every half hour for two hours, you might want to stick to a nice dry turkey.

5) So many desserts: Let’s start with panettone, the very dry northern Italian “cake” that comes in its own cardboard carrying case. I think it is no accident that one food historian called panettone “one of the infamous holiday sweets.” On the “infamous” list I would also include fruitcake, which is soaked in alcohol or other liquors to keep it from molding. Need I say more? Along the same lines, we have the Christmas pudding (aka figgy pudding), which I confess I love, mostly because you set it on fire. Nothing odd about that. And finally we come to my absolute favorite holiday sweet, Hannukah gelt, those little chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Golden chocolate. Perfect.

I’m sure you all have your own Weird Christmas food traditions. Celebrate them! They carry with them generations of family lore and love. (And remember, you can always give Aunt Ida’s fruitcake to a neighbor.)

Amy Pershing is the author of the Cape Cod Foodie Mystery series, including A Side of Murder -- which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” -- and An Eggnog to Die For -- which Kirkus Reviews called “a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens." She’s here today to talk about An Eggnog to Die For and to explore what on earth our pets must think about our holiday traditions.

You can follow Amy on her website,, on Facebook and on Instagram and sign up for her newsletter, News from the Cape Cod Foodie, here.

An Eggnog to Die For can be ordered from: 

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