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Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Celebration

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful time welcoming in the new year.

As for my family, we had a small, quiet celebration. Though we started off the day with a visit to my husband's clinic to get his medicine and had to go across town for a job interview with a group home for the developmentally disabled, we ended the day by picking up some celebratory booze. I wanted to get some wine for us to drink at midnight. Even though I am primarily a beer drinker, as is evidenced by my many reviews of beers here on this blog, I was looking to expand my palette a bit.

We intended to get a bottle of port made by Sandeman, since this was our traditional winter wine. The only reason we did not get some for New Years 2014-2015 was because at the time, I was pregnant. We found and almost bought the bottle, but as I got to looking around the liquor store and at the many varieties of wine it stocked, I asked the shop attendant if he had any recommendations for noobs like me about which wines were cheap, but not rotgut like what you get at the grocery store. He kindly pointed me to a bottle of Lambrusco wine, which fit my criteria of "cheap but not rotgut". Since we only could buy one bottle, my husband happily switched out the bottles for my "education" in wine.

Wine is a totally new field for me

On our way back, we made a stop at a local hole-in-the-wall liquor shop to get some cheap rum. This particular store was in our neighborhood, and we'd been there a number of times in the past as the Chinese proprietor carries an excellent stock of reasonably-priced liquors. Unfortunately, he did not have rum, but he did have slivovica. A traditional Serbian plum brandy, slivovica is a must have in our home owing to my Serbian heritage. Of all the liquor stores I have been to in town, this Chinese liquor store is the only one I've found to carry any sort of Balkan booze. My husband inquired if there was any rakija (Serbian brandy made from quince) in stock, but the proprietor had none.

For our New Year's Eve dinner, my husband made Hoppin' John. This traditional Southern dish is made with black eyed peas, green beans, mustard greens of one variety or another (we used kale), tomatoes, onion, garlic, and pork products (ham and bacon were our additions, though smoked ham hocks are another traditional ingredient). He also made corn bread to serve with the Hoppin' John. Some recipes call for Hoppin' John to be served over rice, but my husband does not do that. He prefers the cornbread instead.

Hoppin' John

At midnight, while our neighbors shot off guns and fireworks, we each had a glass of our Lambrusco wine. Within my first sip, I remembered why I was a beer drinker. While it was labeled as sweet red wine, I thought it tasted like grape flavored vinegar. The apple ciders helped prime my palette for the sour taste of wine, but I preferred the malty body of beer. My hubby, however, told me it was not a bad introduction to wine drinking. His first wine was a Lambrusco too, and as we got money, we'd buy other varieties to try. I had tried wines in the past and almost always found the taste off-putting. I had the same issue with beer, but with wines it was the sourness that bothered me.

My preference for beer stems largely because I am an impoverished proletarian. A good bottle of wine will shoot your budget to hell, but a good bottle of beer wont. Outside of church, I regarded wine as something that only bourgeois assholes consumed. My husband had to scold me for falling too deeply into Marxist thinking, since wine is as ancient as civilization itself. He advised that we stick with Italian wines, since Italians had over a millennium of practice and fine-tuning to perfect wine making.

We did not stay up too late, as we had to be at church at 10AM. January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, and a Holy Day of Obligation. I always found it interesting that the Church would set that particular holiday on that day. I suppose it was their attempt to keep people from going too hog-wild and getting totally shitfaced on New Year's Eve.

And that was how I spent my New Year's.

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