On bringing back a classic

Well, if that was Christmas, I guess we’ve had it.  Oh, people.  That was the fastest five days of my life, without a doubt.  Birthday, Christmas, Boxing Day and then The Genealogist’s family dinner at our house the next day, followed by yours truly spending an entire day in pyjamas and sitting on my ass.  It felt good, let me tell you.  As much as I love to host gatherings and as much as I love to cook and as much as I enjoy my friends and family, sometimes you just need a day to sit on your ass.  And that day, for me, was Monday. 

But I hope you all had a lovely holiday, whatever you celebrate.  We certainly did, and the boys were definitely excited by the Wii purchased for them, as well as the many, many other gifts they received over the course of several days.  But, as The Artist maintains: “it’s not just the presents, it’s about the family, and the food and….well, and the presents too, but it’s not just about that…”  He is wise. 

So as mentioned above, we did a metric tonne of entertaining this season, which required a metric tonne and a half of food, all of which was prepared by me, for the most part.  Which is cool, because I enjoy it, but holy sweet hell it’s a lot of work.  First we had The Musician’s birthday bash, which was really a snacky-type meal – shrimp ring, cheese plate, veggies, etc.  Then it was Christmas dinner, with turkey and all the rest – vegetables, stuffing, potatoes, the works.  Followed by Boxing Day (which, ok I didn’t actually host, but I did help out at my mum’s) followed by The Genealogist’s Family Kinfestation of Aught Nine which required the majority of the food, which I mostly prepared on the aforementioned Boxing Day, and which consisted of chili, turkey soup, turkey pot pie, and a wide variety of snacks and appetizers, requiring the use of every single dish, plate and piece of cutlery in our house.  We hosted 19 people on that day, can I get a witness? 

So everything on every occasion was enjoyed and well received, which is truly the benefit of hosting events like this.  If people are getting together over food that is tasty and nourishing and enjoyable, well then, I have done my job.  And I love to see family and friends coming together over food and drink, having a good time, catching up and reminiscing, and I often will take a good step back from the festivities to just watch and observe and notice how comfortable everyone feels.  It’s a happy thing for sure.  So while I was proud of the fact that we’d been able to create such an enjoyable time for so many people (particularly on the day of The Genealogist’s family visit, because we even had surprise guests from across the country and the US, so it was truly a reunion) I was most proud of my relish trays.

You heard me.  I, the Urban Info Girl, have hereby resolved to bring back one of the classics of the gastronomical experience – the relish tray.  Now, hear me out.  I have fond, fond memories of the relish trays of my youth.  My mother was a staunch supporter of the relish tray, and owned several of those excellent little divided crystal dishes.  And for dinner parties and special occasions, the relish tray was where it’s at.  Always.  Big fat black olives, radishes, pickled onions and sometimes beets, gherkins or sweet mixed pickles, sliced dills, celery sticks and sometimes roasted peppers or even chunks of cheese.  Not a salad to be seen, usually, just the elegance of the relish tray – often chilled for a couple of hours before being served – and gorgeously, deliciously colourful. 

I own several relish trays.  I have about 5 right now, and I used two on Sunday for our big get-together.  And you know what?  People noticed.  They made comments about how they hadn’t seen a relish tray done up for ages; my sister-in-law told me how envious she is of my dishes, how she tried to register for one when she got married but the registry didn’t know what she was talking about.  Sad, isn’t it?  That the ever-wonderful relish tray has been long neglected.  Crystal and Depression glass, Fiesta ware and bone china beauties all gathering dust in the backs of cabinets!  Or worse, being given away, treated as fossils, something you inherit from grandma, and can see no use for.

So, blogfriends.  Who’s with me?  Who will join me in the fight to re-establish the relish tray as the height of sophistication?  Who will dust off their crystal pickle dishes and create masterpieces of the pre-dining experience?  Who will shun the salad at the dinner party in favour of artfully arranged vegetables and pickled items?  Who among you is brave enough to throw caution to the wind and embrace the relish tray?

Well, okay.  Can you at least not laugh when I put one out at my next gathering?  Much appreciated. 

And, if anyone has any relish tray-related memories, I would love to hear them.  Happy New Year, blogfriends!

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