I’m baack! And in a new slot — temporarily. Looking around, this whole Wednesday section seems a bit off. Kind of like Monday’s bastard half-brother. But I’m willing to go with it.
I spent about a day last weekend with my extended family, doing Thanksgiving Stiller style: with turkey, goose, 6,000 mini appetizers and an abundance of red wine.
But while Turkey Day owns the food department, the serious Stiller family get-together goes down Christmas morning.
For some reason, my house was permanently selected as the go-to Christmas brunch destination. So as soon as I could usurp my mother’s loving, if “creative,” endeavors in the kitchen, I did.
Bagels; scrambled eggs (poached, if I was feeling really adventurous); caviar, smoked salmon and blinis; sauteed wild mushrooms; you name it, and it’s been on the smorgasbord.
One year, I went so far as to cut only the center portions of heads of romaine, discarding the inferior bits as structurally unstable. I then stood them carefully in the center of the plate on top of an ancho chili caesar dressing, wrapped them in cucumber slices for support, and ever so gently balancing chives on the vertical structure. And that was one of seven courses.
But despite my culinary prowess — or accidental edibility (however you want to think about it) — the key component to all my Christmas Day brunches is bubbly.
I discovered the art of champagne at the tender age of 12. I’m pretty sure that I was generally banned from the bar region of my home, but for some reason my dad had asked me to open the bottle for him. I interpreted this as, “Open the bottle and have as much as you want.”
I started gently, pouring just enough of the orange juice that I had painstakingly squeezed earlier that morning, and then topping it of with just a splash of what looked like the tastiest soda ever invented.
It was good. Weak, but good. Then again I didn’t really know what “weak” meant, at least not yet.
So as the morning went on, the mimosas kept flowing. They were more or less “o.j.-with-a-touch-of” for the first three or so.
But I quickly realized that the more mimosas I had, the easier it was to deal with my boisterous familia.
So pretty soon my barely-holic concoctions became half-and-half masterpieces, until finally the brew I kept returning to looked more like champagne that had been poorly aged, with just a few pieces of orange juice pulp that had been clinging to my flute.
Of course, I’m sure my parents were watching all of this. They certainly caught on when I insisted on busting out my heelies, putting my dog on a leash and attempting to catapult the both of us into the pool. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful.
At this point, my aunt, in her infinite wisdom, dragged me (by the ear) to the beach. I was instructed to “walk it off.”
In retrospect, I probably had drunk about the equivalent of two flutes of champagne. But I was 12!
I was that kid! I spit the communion wine back into the communal cup the first time I tasted it. On the other hand, I also consistently snuck behind the altar after services on Sundays to polish off the unfinished remainders of the homemade communion bread.
Now I’m older, wiser and officially almost done with Hotelie Wines, which pretty much makes me a champion in all regards.
But every year, when Christmas rolls around, I make sure to bust out the mimosas. Because even though I won’t have to “walk them off,” they sure as hell make family gatherings a lot more interesting.
Cristina Stiller is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at email@example.com. Believe You Me appears alternate Mondays this semester.