Written by Emily Glaser
‘Tis the season to be hungry. And thirsty. And filled with the Christmas spirit—or, sometimes, the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge. Herein find a compendium of behind-the-scenes tales from area restaurants, as seen through the eyes of the folks who mix your drinks, prepare your food, and cater to your dining needs. Guarantee: All dialogue reported verbatim. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
The Christmas tree, menorah, and ticking clock may be popular rendezvous this time of year, but it’s the dinner table that’s our holiday mecca. From candy canes to collard greens, fruitcake to latkes, the holidays are a season of plenty—plenty of eating, that is—and the feasts at which we do it are the most memorable events of the year. It’s a seasonal and cultural communion, when families and friends relate their annual anecdotes, pose their political queries, and reflect on years past, all set to the delicate clink and scrape of silverware.
It’s a narrative told and retold in our seasonal tales. Performed on stage, imprinted on film rolls, or stamped in ink on worn book pages, the climactic, feelgood apex, or finale of most of our holiday stories occurs around the weighted table of some seasonal potluck.
Scrooge’s apology accompanies Tiny Tim’s blessing over the Cratchit’s humble holiday spread. Buddy the Elf first bonds with his family over piled-high plates of syrupy noodles. Sally and Harry’s infamous deli scene and its delights come on the coattails of sleigh bells and snow scenes. After incidents with a stray BB and ravenous bloodhounds, young Ralphie and the Parkers gather in a Chinese restaurant around a plattered duck and shriek with laughter when the butcher’s knife sweeps off its head.
It’s an archetype that exists in our fictions because it exists in our realities. But although these are scenes with which we’re all familiar, filtered through lit candles and glutted wine glasses, while those stories are interesting, they’re not part of this holiday piece…
The full article continues below. Click to open in fullscreen…