Things change. It is just the nature of things. Sometimes the changes are welcome and sometimes they are not, but they will come none the less. Perhaps that is the beauty in traditions. Despite what changes come, traditions can bring us back to the experiences we remember and make some things feel almost unchanged, at least for a moment.
So many things can become an integral part of traditions, and food is certainly not the least of these. Whether your traditions are cultural, religious, or family based food is woven in to so many. The flavors and feelings can bring you comfort, make you laugh, bring anticipation. Food holds a power to meet our physical needs and also fill emotional needs as well. I think this is why so many of us love to cook. It holds such an important role in every single day and can create amazing traditions that you and your family will cherish. Today I want to share my very favorite food tradition with you. I haven't even typed it all out yet and I have already laughed, cried, and certainly craved!
I have no idea why we call this "Sausage Fondue". It has nothing to do with fondue, but it is delicious so you can call it whatever makes you happy. This is our Christmas Day breakfast and has been for as long as I can remember. Other things about the day and its celebration have changed as our family has grown and changed, but the sausage fondue stayed the same. Well, we have kept adding pans, but other than that it stayed the same.
I am sure that when I was young my mom was the one who made it late each Christmas Eve, but once Dad became a more capable cook (when my mom went back to college with 6 kids at home) he took over the responsibility while Mom was busy with other Christmas prep. He would sit at the end of the table with a huge pan of sausage ready to be cut. I wonder how much sausage he cooked because he must have eaten a bite for every two or three that made it in to the casserole. He would grumble and joke a little, but he loved it! He loved eating it and he even loved making it.
When I married my husband (a mushroom hater) my parents adapted by making one pan with Cream of Chicken soup instead of the normal mushroom. Ah, change. Every year for the past 13 Christmases there has been that one pan, made just with him in mind. When we had our first child and our Christmas traditions began to change, it was my husband, not me that insisted that this be a part of our Christmas mornings as well. For several years we ate it at our home in the morning and then at my parents' home again that afternoon when the whole family gathered. It's just that good!
Three years ago we lost my dad. It was one of those changes that we never want and never feel ready for, but it comes anyway. So many changes came to our family after that - some wonderful and some very difficult. The next year my mom was remarried to a man she had dated in high school nearly 50 years before. That Christmas, between juggling two families - in two different states - for Christmas, there was no Sausage Fondue. Two of my sisters literally cried. It was the end of an era.
Thankfully, we had made that a tradition in our own home and we had enjoyed the flavors and feelings associated with that wonderful food as part of our celebration. Food is more than just food and for me, every Christmas, it is a time capsule that takes me back to so many Christmases before, gathered around the table with my whole family. It transports me to that table in the late hours of the night with my dad cutting and sneaking bites and he assembled his masterpiece. Now I get to share all that with my kids. And we talk about grandpa and laugh and share all the excitement of that crazy day over my favorite, Sausage Fondue. What a beautiful gift!
I am sure there will be more Christmas mornings with Sausage Fondue on Mom's table and I look forward to them, but I am thankful for the ability to carry on tradition in my own kitchen. I will continue to make the same recipe (with Cream of Chicken soup, of course) every year and I will continue to add my own family flair to our already rich tradition. Right now, that means Orange Rolls on the table along side the Sausage Fondue, but who knows what else life's changes will bring to our tradition and our table.
I hope you will enjoy these recipes even half as much as we do. Don't save them for Christmas though, just enjoy them!
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