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Good Food, Good Times

Welcome the Season of Bounty

This may be my favorite paper of 2011.    
    The reason is simple. It’s the winning combination of good food and good times.
    Summer is the season I love best, but these dwindling weeks of the year are hard to beat. The light leaves us early, but before it goes, it’s as golden as the leaves. Under the warming influence of the Chesapeake, temperatures are often balmy. Early twilights rage in hot pink and smoky blue.
    Best of all, as Thanksgiving nears — with the winter holidays right behind — the fun begins. Every day and every night from now until the New Year is rung in, there are places to go, people to see and things to do.
    Following the carol’s advice to don we now our gay apparel, our communities dress up, first in autumn leaves with pumpkins at nearly every door. Then in sparkling lights and evergreens, we hold the darkness at bay and bundle up and gather together against the chill.
    As if these six weeks had been transformed into a Broadway musical, song fills the usual silence, and dancing is as common as walking. Every theater and many churches put on plays. Church choirs and military bands and tuba players are irrepressible. You have your pick of 10 or a dozen tellings of traditional stories.
    Workshops teach how to bake holiday cookies or weave boughs and fruits into symbols of welcome. Artists and artisans set up markets to show you the inventions they’ve been crafting all year. Shops serve cookies, wine and cider and stay open late. Railroad buffs set up busy villages of intersecting lines. Runners and walkers lace up their shoes for Turkey Trots and Jingle Bell runs.
    In this paper, Bay Weekly chronicles that outpouring of abundance, hope and glad tidings. Season’s Bounty, our annual holiday supplement, makes this edition so heavy that our delivery drivers must do two trips — or risk their cars’ and trucks’ springs — to bring it to you.
    In Season’s Bounty, you’ll find entertainments to last you the rest of the year. Illuminations, visits from Santa, shops and sales and daily happenings are so bountiful that you can’t have it all. The only way to book your time is to transfer your favorites from our calendar to yours. Some days, you can’t possibly fit it all in. December 3 and 10, both Saturdays, are the busiest days of the year. Even Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are full of fun this time of year.
    This year, we wrap all that Bounty in stories about food.
    Approaches to the Thanksgiving feast are stories we do every November as that holiday nears. This week, we’ve combined the feast with the Bounty.
    I hope these stories will inspire your menu and your memories.
    Writing and reading about food is inspiring for me. I can taste the recipes the way I imagine a reader with a musical ear can hear a score. So my mouth is watering as I bring you stories on five ways to cook a turkey and last-minute seasonal, local dishes to crown your feast.
    But best of all I love the memories that spring to mind as my fingers type or my eyes follow words about food. Occasional contributor Roberta Safer, a retired jeweler and activist in Calvert County’s League of Women Voters, gives us a kitchen story to inspire yours. She writes about birds of a different feather, ducks rather than turkeys, but the message goes to the heart of Thanksgiving, reminding us that the food we share brings us together for years after we’ve wiped our lips and refrigerated the leftovers.
    Her story takes me back to that truth in my life.
    Food was our business, and I grew up in the family restaurant, The Stymie Club. Food was the business of most of our friends, too — the other restaurant owners, the waitresses, the cooks and chefs, the meat men. The remainder favored the sister occupations of drink and gambling.
    Food was our pleasure and our communion. It was like love in our family, binding us together. So a gluttonous number of my memories feature the food we were eating: my grandmother baking Queen of Muffins with Crisco, my mother stewing chicken cacciatore and stirring polenta, my father’s late-in-life love of coffee houses.
    Read Roberta’s story and see what memories it recalls for you. Prepare your Thanksgiving feast with good recipes and good heart. Share both with your family and friends in the knowledge that you are making your life’s story. Savor the spirit of abundance as you embark on the holidays. Plunge into the Season’s Bounty.
    Then let me know if No. 46 isn’t, perhaps, your favorite Bay Weekly of Vol. xix.