Frida has been having the good idea lately, as Hamburg slips into winter rather frighteningly fast, to light candles in the pre-dawn breakfast hour. Ah, she says, nice Christmas feeling.
She’s right, puttering around the kitchen is wonderfully cozy with the candlelight reflecting off the still-dark windows, but I’m afraid our holiday pre-game has been triggered dangerously early. Today, October 19th, I made the kind of eggnog that has eggs in it and I didn’t even bother scaling down the batch to single-serving proportions. We’ve been drinking winter-themed peppermint teas and it’s not yet Hallowe’en. I spied the season’s first panettone at the weekly market, made fun of the vendor for having them way too early, walked away and didn’t even get to the next stand before doubling back to buy it. At this rate we’ll have put on our winter weight by early November, and we’ll be sick of the smell of cloves and nutmeg before Thanksgiving.
That said, when you feel that you are ready to stock your fridge with holiday cheer I highly recommend this recipe:
And if you’re not ready for a nutmeg-scented glass of cholesterol-diabetes-salmonella roulette, at least try the candles. Turn the lights off after dinner, light some candles, snuggle up in the cozy semi-darkness for a bit, and watch your loved ones flutter to sleep at a satisfyingly early hour.
Often, when I make a minor mistake in the daily grind of food acquisition-prep-consumption-sanitation or in the larger household organizational scheme, I wonder if high-level spies make the same mistakes I do. Having perfect aim, excellent command of Middle Eastern politics, and the ability to keep a secret under extreme pressure doesn’t necessarily mean that you always remember to take the laundry out of the dryer before it gets wrinkly, right?
I imagine the spies, devastating in their James Bond tuxedos or perfectly unremarkable in their eavesdropping camouflage, spilling coffee on their computers, forgetting to buy replacement vacuum bags or, worse, buying too many. I imagine them putting flimsy plastic takeout containers in their dishwashers and wondering if they’ve just BPA-poisoned themselves, or starting their phone call just as they step into an elevator. Maybe they, too, occasionally find an unmarked USB stick under the couch. (No worries, it was just a conference freebie. Whew!) Maybe they, too, circle frantically in their rental car, trying to find an Italian gas station that takes credit cards. Maybe they, too, bite into unripe bananas and have fuzzy dry teeth for hours afterwards.
If you’re a spy, tell me: are you always on time filing your taxes? Do you get your teeth cleaned as often as your dentist recommends? Do you remember every password to your media/banking/Amazon accounts? Did you update to the latest OS without losing everything in your calendar? Do you actually meditate in the last 5 minutes of the yoga class instead of just lying there? Do you use all of the spinach before it gets slimy?
I understand that you can’t tell me HOW you stay so organized – secrets are secrets – I’m just wondering if it’s possible.