Christmas dinner at Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew’s home, as envisioned by The Food Channel.
Our Christmas shoot gave me goose bumps. In, oh, so many ways.
First, there was the idea. As a long time Dickens’ fan, I was intrigued with the latest rendition of Disney’s “A Christmas Carol,” brought to life on the big screen this month by Jim Carrey and crew. The idea that this timeless tale could have so many identities over the years (from George C. Scott to “The Simpsons”) just confirmed it as the everyman’s story.
In talking it over with our editorial staff, we all started envisioning that era and finding parallels to the contrasts in today’s world. Dickens has been recognized as the first author to really write to the every day person, with descriptions of food aimed at the average family, with a mix of need and plenty. We knew that the Crachit’s Christmas table (pre-enlightenment) was sparse, but weren’t really sure what that meant. And the idea of abundance in the Dickens’ era was another image that was hard to imagine.
So, we started to bring the contrasts to life. That was the first round of goose bumps—when we got excited about the food of A Christmas Carol.
The Crachit family Christmas, prior to Scrooge’s “enlightenment” — goose instead of turkey.
We went to the movie, of course. We sat in a long row of writers, editors, videographers, photographers, designers, and a food stylist thrown in for good measure. Our senses were completely attuned to food, and whenever so much as an apple showed up on screen we pointed and nudged down the row. Goose bumps number two came from the simple joy of the movie and the excitement we all felt from seeing it anew. In 3D.
Finally we had the shoot. The first day was our day of abundance, laid out on a gorgeous table in front of a blazing fireplace, and otherwise lit only by soft candlelight: a turkey overflowing with sausage stuffing, rolls piled high on a platter, baked apples filled with buttery dried fruit and nuts, mashed potatoes piped into delicate mounds, carrots glazed with marmalade and brown sugar, plum pudding with a rum hard sauce, bright red beets, mincemeat pie and a brandy-filled Christmas wassail. Go ahead, admit it—that gives you goose bumps, too!
The next day was our day of meager blessings. Long sticks of unadorned carrots, rolls trying valiantly to look plentiful, dark ale, and a goose trailing a small stream of stuffing. And, yes, our goose had bumps. Turns out that the origins of the phrase goose bumps really is tied back to the look of a plucked goose. Who knew.
Looking at our goose set out on an old wooden table, with simple plates and cups, the human variety of goose bumps returned. As stark as the Crachit’s table was, they really were blessed. And when we compare and contrast it with the bounty of today, even in hard economic times, we realize that we are blessed as well.
To the point of goose bumps.
Want to try some of the “Christmas Carol”-inspired recipes? You’ll find them in Related Recipes below.