I chose to do something different this year rather than the typical parang lime/trini Atlanta Christmas. Those close to me have probably heard the name pop up often as of late:
Lagrange...............go ahead, scratch your heads now.
I've always had a fondness for and an attraction to, small towns though I'm not sure I'd classify Lagrange as such; there is a mall after all.....with Macys (wow). Admittedly, I didn't spend much time exploring the City, having only discovered the town square my second trip down there. I was more enraptured by the small town charm and hospitality I experienced from my host family (whom for privacy sake we'll call the Richardsons). Having known me vicariously through their daughter over the past eight years, they welcomed me as a son, as though they'd known me all along.
And yes, you read that right, I said daughter. What, you think I'm crazy? Obviously I went out there behind some woman (we're just friends so relax people).
Where were we?
Oh right, Lagrange, bess Christmas.
From the time I got down there on Christmas Eve, I could tell I was onto something. I was barely out the car before the first Bacardi and Coke greeted me (my kind of people). I breached the kitchen and couldn't quite comprehend the sight before me; a whole chicken, seasoned and simmering nonchalantly in a pot on the stove.
"Times must be tough" I thought to myself, "Is boil chicken we eating?"
I came to find out later that all the meat was then combined with bread crumbs, etc then baked to create a chicken stuffing (or dressing as it's known in the south) for the turkey.........fucking brilliant. The chicken bones were then used to make a stock which in turn became chicken fucking gravy (somebody pinch me).
My home girl, no slouch in the kitchen herself, made a roast beef that I would eat off the floor. The beef was combined with potatoes and carrots then broiled in the oven on low heat for hours; it was like pus........erm.......heaven on a fork. The rest of the Christmas dinner itself included ham, turkey, turnip greens, broccoli and cheese pie and mac and cheese.
Oh and Mr. Richardson brought out his "pepper sauce" though it's not quite what you think; nothing like what we Caribbean folk call pepper sauce. This was literally pickled, whole jalapeno peppers in a jar. You'd pour the pickle juice on your greens then chomp on a whole pepper for added effect. Dessert was red velvet cake and homemade cheese cake which had a bit of a lime flavour to it.
So believe it or not, I actually managed a Christmas without pastelles, black cake, ponche a creme or ginger beer, no ham and chau chau, no bake and buljol, but as you can tell, I had a pretty good time with great people, and if they'll have me, I'll do it again.
Special mention goes out to Stax and Gabby for hosting the pre-Christmas potluck that set the standard for the rest of the holiday..........I had not consumed that much alcohol in such a short span of time, in a very very long time. Whoever made the pelau, please know that you are a master of your craft, and may virgins worship at your feet. A word of mention also to Mr. and Mrs. Quamina for hands down, the best Christmas house party I have ever been to (seriously).
And with that, I will leave you all with just two words............RUM BALLS (again, ask Stax).