‘I hear that lonesome whistle, hang my head and cry’ What New Zealand inmates will eat on Dec. 25

What I remember from prison 35 years ago was, it was lonely.

There were fights, dramas, scandals, but that was nothing to the continual loneliness.

johnny_cash_at_folsom_prisonAccording to the New Zealand Heraldthere will be no trimmings, treats or trifle for the 10,000-odd prisoners behind bars this Christmas.

The Department of Corrections has today released details of the Christmas Day menu for the inmates at its 18 prisons across the country.

Inmates will man the kitchens on the day, preparing 10,000 meals of roast chicken, gravy, roast potatoes, carrots, green peas, two slices of bread and apple pie with custard.

All prison meals are designed and prepared in line with nutrition guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health.

The main Christmas meal will be provided at lunchtime, with sandwiches given in the evening, Corrections said today.

As with any other day, vegetarian and other special dietary requirements will also be catered for.

Turkey’s are sorta boring: Re-create Christmas a 12-day drunken festival in centuries past

It’s a line I use frequently, from our Christmas movie tradition, Mystery, Alaska, or second fave, Trailer Park Boys Christmas:

historic-xmas-7_custom-c9322f035d60b76c3ab1fcedd928a3512b503b99-s1600-c85The only fun things to do in cold weather are fornicate and play hockey.

If you are eating turkey this Christmas out of some sense of tradition, food historian Ivan Day says, put down that drumstick. After studying English cookbooks hundreds of years old, Day says the giant bird isn’t even that traditional. Besides, he says, “It’s a dry wasteland of flavorless meat.”

Sure, the first turkey came to England in the 1600s. It was an exotic “treat” from the New World. But a time traveler from Shakespeare’s time wouldn’t understand why everyone in the modern world was having the same dull bird on Christmas night.

At his farmhouse in northern England, Day collects old cookbooks and food illustrations. He says in olden days, Christmas celebrations were all about novelty and variety. The tables of the rich might include a turkey and a goose, but also peacocks, swans, partridges and plovers. A rack of venison would sit beside a giant turtle. The eating would go on for days.

Christmas used to be a 12-day drunken festival. Imagine Mardi Gras with snow. Cooks were always trying to top one another in outrageousness, from the traditional presentation of the boar’s head to the array of sickeningly sweet puddings. Day shows me a 19th-century illustration of a pie that took a crowd of servants to carry. It was filled with boned geese, woodcocks, hares and any other game they had around.

“This was the original turducken,” he says.

Ivan Day will be having beef roasted in front of an open fire for Christmas, and he says you really should stop and appreciate how Christmas must have felt to people, say, 400 years ago. They might have gone months eating the same thing every day, bacon and bread. The Christmas meal, with its exotic fruits and endless variety, must have felt like a miracle. “It was a moment of sunshine in a dreary year of grayness,” he says.

319 sick; Norway Christmas party E. coli outbreak declared over

I’m not sure how a foodborne disease outbreak linked to a Christmas party can be declared over before Christmas, but that’s what Norwegian health types have done after 319 people were struck with tourist diarrhea or enterotoxigenic Eschericia coli (ETEC) at a Ringerike, Norway hotel.

The gastrointestinal outbreak happened after guests ate a Christmas buffet Klækken Hotels Hønefoss.e.coliat Klækken Hotels Hønefoss during the period of Dec. 4-9.

Six people were reported as requiring hospitalization for their illness. Guests had mainly diarrhea and abdominal pain, some had vomiting and fever.

The source of the outbreak has not been ascertained.

Preliminary results of surveys made ​​among the guests at the hotel during the relevant period, may indicate that the source of infection is the cold food from the buffet. FSA continues to work on mapping and analysis of these foods .

The Folkehelsinstituttet says since there have been no reports of illness after Dec. 9, the outbreak is over.

Feast of the seven temperature verified fish and Merry Christmas

I’m not Italian, I’m not religious, but now that I’ve found a decent fish monger, the Feast of the Seven Fish is the kind of meal I can get behind in support of winter or summer soltisce, depending on your hemisphere.

Or even for Christmas Eve.

We did our own version on the barbie: snapper, ocean trout, farmed Tasmanian salmon, big prawns, little prawns, steamed oysters and Morton bay bugs from just up the road a bit, along with some sweet potato crisps and rustic bread (would have gone for Tassie mussels but everyone was sold out, so it was two kinds of shrimp).

It was a feast, and we were grateful. Everything was cooked to a tender but safe thermometer-verified temperature. The bowl on the right is remnants.

Neil Young knows this: beware the Christmas ham, says insurer

Neil Young once had to cancel some tour dates because he sliced a guitar finger while making a ham sandwich.

New Zealand’s state-run Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which offers universal insurance cover for accidents, released figures today showing the cost of treatment, rehabilitation and compensation for accidents recorded last Christmas Day have topped $NZ1.9 million ($1.45 million).

That includes several claims for ham-related injuries – including carving mishaps and burns, neck and knee strains from carrying heavy hams, and even a crushed finger after a ham toppled from a stand.

Most of the 3,040 Christmas Day injuries accepted by ACC resulted from outdoor activities – including frisbee, fishing, slippery sliding, trampolining and poolside antics.

One person laughed so hard they fainted, hitting their head in the garden, another broke their tooth on a dislodged gem that ended up on the menu, and someone taking their post-lunch nap was injured when a drunk person stood on their face.

Xmas events shelved after Dublin hotel vomiting outbreak

The Regency Hotel in Dublin has had to cancel a number of Christmas events and suspend its food and beverage service after a suspected outbreak of norovirus linked to its catering services.

Manager John Glynn told the Irish Times he had received “between 50 and 100” calls from people who had dined there last week complaining of being ill afterwards.

“Last Thursday a number of people were in touch saying they had been at a function on the Wednesday night and were not well.

“On the Friday evening the HSE was in touch saying they had had calls, and they visited the hotel and took samples from all the menus, including ice and water, which was stored in fridges over the weekend, to be examined in their labs.”

He said all food and beverage operations in the hotel had been suspended since yesterday morning while all food and drink service areas were decontaminated, a process he said would take 48 hours.

“We have had to cancel two events, affecting about 500 people, which is a pity but the people are very grateful and understanding of the stance I have taken.”

Merry Christmas from The Trailer Park Boys

Holidays are all about tradition. After five years in Kansas, Amy and Sorenne and I have settled into a routine of lamb (that was last night), fish, cognac and champagne and no barfing, except 2006, when Amy was so sick we got married.

There’s the television shows: It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Scrooged, endless children’s specials. TBS runs a 24-hour marathon of nothing but the quirky 1983 holiday entry, A Christmas Story. But for us, nothing captures the true meaning of Christmas better than the 2004 Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special.

In this scene (language warning), Ricky extols to the congregation in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (that’s in Canada), about the true meaning of Christmas.

“Sorry to interrupt, but I just had one of those brain-learning things pop into my head. … What is Christmas? I just got out of jail, which was awesome, you know, they don’t have presents and lights and tress, we just get stoned and drunk, it’s the best time. And I get out here and I’m all stressed out.

“… That’s not what Christmas should be, you should be getting drunk and stoned with your friends and family, people that you love. … That’s Christmas. … Getting drunk and stoned with your families and the people that you love. And if you don’t smoke or drink, just spend time with your families. It’s awesome. Merry Christmas.”

Or as Sorenne says, don’t make your friends and family barf with bad food safety.

Gratuitous food porn shot of the day – Xmas eve edition

Christmas Eve dinner in Manhattan with a couple of Kansas State modern languages graduate students from Senegal (they speak French there).

Oven-roasted French-cut lamb ribs – cooked to 140F but still needed a quick zap in the microwave to bring out the flavor — with roasted herb-garlic potatoes, Frenchy cheese, whole grain bread and salad.

Gratuitous food porn shot of the day (Xmas eve edition) — French rib rack lamb

The things you can find on sale at Dillon’s supermarket (part of the Kroger chain) in Manhattan (Kansas).

For Christmas Eve dinner, which has no special significance other than we made it home from Minnesota before the storm hit, only to get walloped in Manhattan, I decided to cook the lamb – with a rosemary, Dijon mustard glaze, to a yummy and greasy thermometer-verified 140F. Accompanied with roasted potatoes and carrots, along with microwaved asparagus in garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with whole wheat rolls and a mushroom-fat-free-lamb-stock roux. Served with a 2005 Zinfandel from Napa Valley courtesy of Amy’s Aunt Jean and Uncle Mark.

Below is Sorenne doing her best Pebbles Flintstone impersonation on a lamb lollipop.

Nothing like a hot tub in a 15F blizzard to remove the grease and mess and stuff.

Christmas Day is usually T-bone steaks, but now I have to figure out if they are meat tenderized or not (good luck). More about that later.

If you swallow the charm, it’s your fault; London diners sign Xmas pudding waiver

I have no use for Christmas pudding, fruitcake, or those stale, doughy cookies strewn with sprinkles.


Christmas pudding is apparently a steamed dessert made with dried fruit, nuts, spices and brandy.

It is common to put several charms or coins in the pudding, which are believed to bring prosperity in the New Year to the person who finds them.

The owners of High Timber, a London restaurant in the financial district, say they were advised to draw up the indemnity form by lawyers who regularly dine there.

Co-owner Neleen Strauss said,

"I thought it was going to be a pain but decided to do it to cover my backside. We’re based in the City so a lot of my customers are lawyers and they suggested it. It is a bit crazy but I decided to take their advice."

The waiver says,

"I absolve entirely High Timber from all blame or liability should I come to any harm including, but not limited to, a chipped tooth, or any injury as a result of swallowing it."