The holiday season is officially in full swing and the hunt for the perfect gift is on. Have a foodie in your life? Shopping for someone impossible to shop for? Here’s some inspiration.
Gift Ideas for the Foodie in Your Life
Farm to table has exploded onto the scene as the hot new theme. Restaurants across America are styling their interior to match. But the decorating doesn’t have to stop there. There are TONS of farm-to-table inspired items perfect for residential kitchen and dining spaces as well.
Tuesday marked the beginning of Hanukkah, which runs until Dec. 24. This Jewish holiday is steeped in traditions, and food is no exception. On Hanukkah, it is customary to eat foods fried in oil and cheese. Fried foods commemorate the Hanukkah oil, which burned for eight days and nights. Cheese represents the heroine Judith, who saved her people 2,000 years ago by slaying the Greek general Holofernes with the help of…you guessed it, cheese.
Image Credit: slgckgc/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Traditional foods prepared on Hanukkah include sufganiyot, which is a jelly filled doughnut, latkes, cheese blintzes and rugelach (sweet cream cheese pastries). To help celebrate, here are eight recipes sure to please your party.
Image Credit: Rebecca Siegel/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Christmas is just around the corner, and with it comes all of the traditional holiday foods and treats. But have you ever wondered where some of these ideas came from? Why is it called egg nog? What the heck’s a fruitcake? We’ll take a look at the origins of some of these yuletide staples, as well as what other countries serve at this time of year.
I’m pretty sure you either love egg nog or hate it. The super rich, hearty drink is made from cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and a “festive” amount of alcohol (optional, of course). Eggnog started becoming a holiday tradition in America around the 1700s, due to many Americans having easy access to chickens and dairy cattle. But where did the name come from? What is a nog? Well, that’s where it gets complicated. Several etymologists believe the origin comes from the word “noggin,” which refers to small wooden mugs the drink was served in. Another theory is that it came from a contraction of the request for an “egg-and-grog” when customers wanted a glass. So don’t be afraid to get your nog on this Christmas. Don’t forget to add a little cinnamon or nutmeg on top before you drink!
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Oh, the gift that keeps on giving. Fruitcake is the butt of a lot of jokes this time of year. But I subscribe to the theory “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” And when prepared properly, fruitcake can be a welcomed addition to the holiday line-up.
This dense cake is made with chopped candied fruit or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Occasionally, it is soaked in spirits, which helps extend its shelf life (A family in Michigan has a fruitcake heirloom that has been passed down since it was made…in 1878!). This was helpful hundreds of years ago, as the spirits would help prevent mold.
Similar to fruitcake is panettone, which is a sweet Italian bread with candied citrus and raisins. It has become a very popular Christmas dessert in Europe and South America. Panettone is fluffier than the dense fruitcake, and is served with sweet hot beverages or sweet wine.
Around the World
Of course, each country or culture that celebrates Christmas has their own traditions and staples. For example, in the UK, it’s tradition to serve a Christmas pudding. Now, this isn’t pudding like you’d find in the snack aisle. Pudding in this case refers to a cake. Christmas pudding is prepared similar to fruitcake, but steamed. Once it’s ready, it is soaked in a spirit such as brandy and set alight (because fire makes EVERYTHING tastier).
In France, a popular dessert is bûche de Noël, also known as a yule log. This cake is prepared like a swiss roll, frosted and filled with a chocolate filling. It can be decorated to look more like a log, with little branches, or snow (powdered sugar).
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Finally, in Japan, things are a bit…different. A very small percentage celebrate Christmas there, but that doesn’t stop them from having a Christmas day tradition, where the traditional meal is, no joke, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Thanks to a hugely successful holiday advertising campaign, which started in 1974, KFC Japan has offered holiday chicken meals, which include chicken, sides, cake and a holiday commemorative plate. These meals usually have to be ordered a month or two in advance due to demand.
Happy Labor Day, America! Now that we’ve reached the ‘unofficial end of summer’, we have to ask the question: “Do you have your holiday shopping done yet?” While we know that 32 million Americans will wait until the last minute for their personal holiday shopping – the restaurateur will probably need to plan earlier for their restaurant, catering business or institution’s needs. Don’t sweat it, because Central Restaurant’s product consultants are here to show you some products that will get you ready for your holiday rush.
Start With Some New Banquet Tables
Correll Heavy Duty Folding Tables are great for catering.
Remember to stock up on punch bowls, serving utensils, table coverings and other supplies. With holiday parties these items will get a workout and you’ll want to make sure you have backups available to maintain your high standards. Don’t be a Scrooge and wait until the last minute for holiday ordering. Plus, there are still a few days to save 15% on Vollrath products(promotion ends Friday, September 5th).
..And Some Not So Helpful Suggestions
We had other ideas, but they were shot down. Still, we wanted to pass some along so you could be the judge.
First, we thought it would be nice to be able to recreate that timeless Christmas song using a Star radiant gas charbroiler. It usually is pretty cold outside in December, so we thought about bringing those ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ inside. One of our Product Consultants said that would not be a good idea. Who knew?
Not a suitable ‘nutcracker’
Next, we searched our catalog for a traditional nutcracker. Turns out we don’t sell any decorative soldiers with a large mouth used to crack traditional holiday nuts. We suggested decorating a Tablecraft lobster cracker, but was told that would be to much work to create.
Finally, we read how 122 million pounds of eggnog were consumed by Americans in 2007. It sounded like a job for a new gravity-fed milk dispenser. Then we read further into the statistics and learned that this broke down to half a cup per person. If the other half of the cup is being thrown down the drain, maybe a dispenser dedicated solely to eggnog would not be a great investment.
But Seriously Folks
Just because the calendar hasn’t even reached the fall season (more on that tomorrow), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be planning ahead. Remember that Central Restaurant’s website is available for you 24-hours a day, and our knowledgeable product consultants are ready to answer your questions and take your orders Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern and each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The holiday theme is a great one to put into a school cafeteria. Anything new and intriguing in the lunchroom, like signage or different menu item, can really make a student’s day more exciting—even if it’s only 30 to 40 minutes of their day. Here is what a few schools are doing around the country during this holiday season.
For the holiday, Meek Schools fix a traditional holiday meal and decorate their lunchroom for family members. “We are a K-12 school with an enrollment of a little over 500,” Ann Harbison says. “Kids enjoy the special meal and decorations.” Harbison also adds the younger children especially love when family comes to their holiday meal to eat with them.
The holiday season for college students means finals! At IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis), Stacy Blanton says the IUPUI Food Service (Chartwells) will provide coffee specials at any of their coffee locations on campus. Specials will be available both in the morning for the early risers and in the evening for those staying up late studying.
Debra Taylor of Winston County High School says their school has a Christmas bulletin board. This year, every students name and grade is listed. “Simple but sweet,” she says. Similar to Meek Schools, Winston County High School has a special Christmas dinner. This year, the menu will consist of chicken dressing, buffet ham, yam patty, green beans, cole slaw, cranberry sauce, yeast rolls and dessert.
Public schools in Alachua County will have a traditional holiday dinner. “Most also decorate the cafés to help welcome the students in everyday and create a festive holiday feel,” Pennie Spencer-Rodriguez says. This year, sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn bread, muffins and fruit crisp is on the holiday menu.
Photo from Alachua County Food and Nutrition Services Website
These dinners (during the lunch time) have become very popular for parents and the community. “You wouldn’t believe the parents and community members that take the time during their busy work day to be able to participate,” she says. “It’s a really busy but fun time for us.”
What is your school doing for the holidays? What’s on your menu?