I imagine I’m not the only one to put on my favorite music while I’m cooking. Then there are some pieces that are special to this season.
Our regular Christmas cd’s are satisfactory accompaniment, except John’s Slovenian Christmas album. And he’s not even Slovenian. Sorry. I just don’t like it.
My favorite Christmas-baking cd is Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances. It’s not Christmas music, but I heard it for the first time (or at least took note) several years ago at a holiday concert of the late, lamented Red: An Orchestra. Ever since, I’ve associated it with Christmas, though I play it all year round. We have a piano version, too. Try it. It’s the most celebratory music, especially the Bergamasca in Suite 2.
Then, closer to Christmas, I pull out my old News From Lake Woebegone tapes (a gift from Joel?), which came in a set of four–one for each season. I will be playing the entire Winter tape (go figure) while I bake or cook later this week. On one side, Garrison Keillor tells the lovely story of James Lundeen, a childhood friend, who yearned for a Lionel train set for Christmas but then found, after his dad almost died in an accident, that his real little town and family were sufficient.
On the other side, Keillor describes his childhood “storm home” — the refuge he was assigned if he was ever stranded by a blizzard in town after school. He realizes that just imagining the welcome he’d received at the Kruegers, a family he never actually met, provides comfort enough. “I suppose my storm home was a kind of fiction,” Keillor says. His principal might just as well have assigned him to Mr. Zuckerman’s farm with Charlotte and Wilbur the pig, or to a raft on the Mississippi.
Such are the comforts of fiction, and such the comfort of familiar sounds when the spritz cookies won’t spritz (like today), the brown sugar’s turned into solid rock, and, at last, the cookie sheets have to be scrubbed clean.
What’s your favorite kitchen accompaniment?