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Christmas in the Country

Georgia Peyton wishes you glad tidings!

Photo courtesy of Robert Peyton

'Twas the night after Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring unless you count my 11-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter, both of whom were stirring quite a bit. I am not aware of any mice. 

My son's stirring was of the less-than-welcome variety. On Christmas night his stirring was due to either a stomach bug or the combination of rich food and too many sweets. The result was the kind of stirring that wakes me up a bit before midnight to tell me it needs a mop. It wasn't the best way to end a Christmas, but as my father said as he and my mother and I cleaned the floor, “There's nothing that brings a family together like a barfing kid.”

My son felt better almost immediately and in fact was back asleep long before I was. The time awake gave me the opportunity to reflect on a pretty swell day – and more pertinently, a pretty swell meal.

When I was a kid, we'd always spend Christmas Day in Amite with my grandparents. They had a big house with a large garden that provided most of the vegetables for our early evening dinner. I know that everyone thinks their grandmother is (or was) a great cook. Everyone also thinks their children are beautiful. In truth, some people have grandmothers who couldn't cook their way out of a paper bag, and some kids are ugly.

Well, my grandmother truly was a great cook, and I will refer you to widely available pictures of my offspring if you wish to judge whether their beauty meets or exceeds my own. (Exceeds.)

But my grandmother passed away years ago, so it has been a while since I sat down to dinner in Amite and had a meal as memorable as the one we had this year. My wife cooked a pork roast and oyster dressing from recipes she edited in Louisiana Life and Acadiana Profile; my mother-in-law made artichoke-and-crabmeat soup, rolls and bread; I made brussels sprouts and a beet salad. The food was good and the company better. It wasn't quite the social scene I remember from 35 years ago. Back then my grandparents and their contemporaries, children and grandchildren would go house-to-house to share food and drink. I'm nostalgic for those times, but this was nice, too.

And despite the fact that my infant daughter didn't go to sleep until 11; despite the fact that my son woke me less than an hour later to mop the floor; and despite the fact that my back is killing me and has been for days – it was a merry Christmas. I hope yours was merry, as well, and that if you have any holiday food traditions, you'll share them in the comments below.   


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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived here his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He is a partner at the law firm Christovich & Kearney LLP and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1997. That is approximately 72 Internet years, for anyone counting.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

Robert has gills, but they are nonfunctional.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue magazine and on the website www.slashfood.com. He is the only person he knows who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a penis. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers.

Robert once ate an entire goat, but it was very small, and he didn’t feel too good about it afterward. He did, however, feel better than the goat.

He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show Great Chefs and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring. 

Certain parts of the above are exaggerations, but one thing is true: Robert appreciates your comments and e-mails, so keep them coming.

If you find that you need a more constant source of Robert in your life, you can follow him on Twitter.




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