8# The delicious history of the Yule Log Cake – or bûche de Noël

Paris at Christmastime is heaven for sweet tooth. Even if, patisseries on virtually every street corner is attractive at any time of year, there’s something magical about windows packed with elaborately decorated little logs. I discovered that few French people celebrate Christmas without one of these Yule log cake, known also as bûche de Noël, a Christmas cake with a ritualistic and interesting past. Cleverly shaped and decorated to look like a 3-D little log, the cake represents a melding of ancient midwinter traditions: one that celebrated the end of…

Read More

7# Ul Boov: the Mongolian “shoe sole cake“

We are in Mongolia. Tsagaan Sar, arguably Mongolia’s most important holiday, is the celebration of the Lunar New Year, held a month after the first new moon following the Winter Solstice. Tsagaan means “white” and Sar can be translated as “month” or “moon”. When locals celebrate the Lunar New Year with a days-long holiday, that like the best holidays, is all about family, the centerpiece is usually a fabulous ul boov. Ul boov in the lyrical, literal style of the Mongolian language means “shoe sole cake”, probably a humble name…

Read More

1# Christmas Risengrød, the Danish rice pudding that appeases wicked elves!

In Denmark, the tradition of eating rice pudding, or risengrød, on Christmas starts with a mischievous elf. In many European countries, traditions linked to Christmastime feature magical creatures who are slightly less benevolent than the American version of Santa and his elves. In fact, it seems that many of these curious sprites, in fact, are trying to steal or otherwise make trouble for people. Danish folklore features a gnome or elf-like creature known as “nisse”, who lives in barns and becomes particularly exuberant during the Christmas season. If treated well,…

Read More

And you have a wheel of cheese to be eaten at your funeral?

Imagine setting aside a wheel of cheese at your wedding. What would it look like if it were served at your  funeral? Probably shriveled and brown, pockmarked from decades of mite and mouse nibbles and, above all, hard as a rock! You’d need an axe to slice it open and strong booze to wash it down. Of course, this is the cheese you  don’t want to cut even though it’s aged to perfection. However, a fossilized funeral cheese means you lived a long life! Jean-Jacques Zufferey’s home in Grimentz, high…

Read More