In my last post I talked about the different holiday celebrations leading up to the New Year. I left off at the Christmas Festival at the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, so I will pick up here.
We begin at The Zee’s Christmas get together where we shared in the traditional SW Holiday food, Tamales. Wiki says “ A tamal (Spanish: tamal [taˈmal], from Nahuatl: tamalli [taˈmalːi]) — also tamales — is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (a starchy dough, usually corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. The wrapping is discarded before eating. Tamales can be filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chilies or any preparation according to taste, and both the filling and the cooking liquid may be seasoned.
Tamales have been traced back to the Ancient Maya people, who prepared them for feasts as early as the Preclassic period (1200-250 BC). Maya people called their corn tortillas and tamales both utah.” Clair and her sister Jean slaved over the dish for much of the day, and this was my first experience with them. As a meal it was traditional, in other words, nothing to write home about. I know I appreciate their work, quite a great deal but it just seemed to be underwhelming. The night was made however when they brought out a tray of mostly homemade cookies including Clair’s pecan shortbread and Jean’s biscochitos (a crisp butter or lard based cookie flavored with anise and cinnamon. To say these were a hit is an understatement. I am sure there is a large tray of these available at the pearly gates.
The second hit of the evening was the release of the Zee’s pets from the Nargle (crate). They quickly found laps to lay on and quickly added to the holiday warmth and spirit.
Saturday, the 22nd was the State Park Volunteer Holiday get together. It was nice to feel appreciated for the work that we do and this luncheon reinforced that appreciation. The volunteers do a lot for the park and I for one, feel great giving back to the community in this way.
Christmas Eve was the annual celebration on the plaza in Mesilla. There were hundreds of candlebaggios, lights, music and wonderful Mexican Hot Chocolate, a delicious mix with cinnamon. After strolling the plaza we ended up at a local cafe where we sat outside, listening to the music and singing, warmed by the wine and several chimineas. Wiki says “Originally, all clay open fire garden heaters imported to the U.S. from Mexico were known as chimeneas. As the story goes, chimeneas originated hundreds if not thousands of years ago by Mexican tribesmen who developed the chimeneas as a means of providing heat for their family as well as a vessel for cooking and baking. The original chimenea was designed to keep the rain off the fire and the family warm using merely a couple of sticks.” We told stories, drank wine and just soaked in the spirit of the season.
Christmas Day brought a nice, quiet feeling as Mrsfabp and I opened some presents. I suprised her with a trip to the Spas of Truth or Consequences, NM along with a fancy dinner, a massage and some sightseeing. She got a Keurig coffee machine from our kids and some assorted traditional gifts from me. I am getting a new camera body, to be delivered tomorrow and a new tripod from Molliejupiter. BusinessBoy and MissNicole gave me canvas prints of the three pictures that won ribbons at the Dona Ana Camera Club competition. I just love them, a very well thought out gift from them.
As for dinner, I tried something new with great results. We did a modified “Feast of the Seven Fishes” which Wiki defines as “ an Italian Christmas celebration. Today, it is a feast that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. However, some Italian-American families have been known to celebrate with nine, eleven or thirteen different seafood dishes. This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.” We did a lobster tail and a seafood newburg (scallops and shrimp) over risotto. Yes, that is the sound of contentment.
This only leaves two events before the season is officially over. The first is going to the Sunday Buffet at the Double Eagle Restaurant in Mesilla. We were there last year for a dinner but not the buffet which seems to be renowned in the area. It is becoming a Holiday tradition too, dinner with the Zees at a time that the holidays are winding down. It is Beez’s birthday this past week too so it is also a celebration of this.
Finally, on January 1st Mrsfabp and I will be hosting a New Years Day buffet. We used to attend one every year at some friend’s house overlooking Lake Lashaway in Massachusetts. This will be a way to continue this tradition.
Well, this is the holidays at Casa del Pinguino. Relaxing, filled with the spirit of the season and reflecting the relaxed nature of life in New Mexico. January will bring its own set of challenges, planning the year at the State Park, preparing the Basic Digital Photography Class that we will present there and working out the kinks of my new camera. Hopefully I will post some of the pictures taken during the class and show some continued progress in my photography.