With strong roots and her passion to guide her, Jackie kept on cooking. She taught herself from cookbooks and food magazines. She cut herself—she learned, she burned stuff—she learned, she poisoned a family member or two—she learned…
She moved up the familial totem pole. It was quite an achievement to get passed the Christmas cooking torch. It meant she cooked the bulk of the meal and her mother, grandmother and her aunt made their specialties. She broke what she deemed a silly family tradition—the dinner rush!
“On Christmas day, my family would walk in the door and expect dinner within five minutes. After I’d been cooking for days, I didn’t want my dinner inhaled in three seconds. So I introduced appetizers—a few savory morsels with enough variety to slow ’em down. They loved it—a raw bar, a shrimp boil, crab cakes, or a variety of Asian dumplings. YUM!”
And the dessert menu changed as well.
“Traditionally, dessert had to come right on the tail of the dinner. So I’d bake up a storm to further slow them down. In addition to Grandma’s “ear-smoking” fruit cake—baked in January and laced with 151 rum for 11 months, I’d make loads of desserts, overwhelming them at every turn, forcing them to take their time. A minimum of six different kinds with doubles of the big sellers. Christmas cookies, too. Everybody had to get a bit of everything and of course everyone had food to take home. Grandma’s tradition has never changed.”