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What are we eating for Christmas and why?

Christmas turkey
Chewy Chua
Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND
Christmas turkey

In this holiday feature, KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper talks with a University of New Mexico anthropologist and geographer about Christmas food traditions in America. Professor Ronda Brulotte is the author of “Edible Identities: Food as cultural heritage.”

So what are we eating and why? Brulotte says that our traditional Christmas foods are primarily adapted from the British. However, the turkey itself is an American addition. As immigrants from other countries arrived in the U.S., they brought their own culinary specialties to holiday tables. But adapting to American foods was viewed as part of assimilation.

Brulotte makes our mouths water with talk of a wide variety of sweets on the dessert table. She calls fruitcake the dessert we love to hate and is puzzled as to why we still make it. When it comes to drinks, Brulotte serves up eggnog with or without alcohol, champagne and a variety of celebratory fruit punches. Fruit punches evidently originated in India and then spread throughout the world. As for Brulotte herself, tamales will be on her holiday table. She learned how to make them while living in Mexico.

Music for this story is: "I We wish you a Merry Christmas" by Twin Musicom, CC By 4.0.

Mary Lou Cooper reports on consumer issues for KSFR as well as on politics and elder affairs. She has worked for the U.S. Congress as well as for the Nevada and Tennessee legislatures, and remains a political junkie. She worked many years for an association of Western state legislatures and was a contributor to “Capitol Ideas,” a national magazine about state government. In 2016 Cooper received a public service award from the New Mexico Broadcasting Association for her KSFR story on Internet romance scams. She has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and from the National Federation of Press Women. She grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and received her BA from Emory University in Atlanta and her MA from the University of Texas Austin. She also holds fiction and screenwriting certificates from the University of Washington.