Tuesday, December 22, 2009

visions of christmas dinner's past

william t. such the frozen heart of winter

james joyce in his gloomily titled work "the dead",
describes a dinner in which the food is organized "just so"
and the restorative beverages are lined up with military precision . . .

you'll see -
it's beautiful all the same!

"a fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef.

joseph clark a christmas dole

between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of smyrna figs, a dish of custard topped with grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall celery stalks.

in the centre of the table there stood, as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and american apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass, one containing port and the other dark sherry. on the closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals, drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms, the first two black, with brown and red labels, the third and smallest squad white, with transverse green sashes."

john sargent noble their christmas eve

18 comments:

Coastcard said...

A wonderful description, Steven - and I just love that Sargent painting!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I so enjoyed the words and images of Christmases past! Conjures up very warm, anticipatory feelings. Thanks steven!

Barry said...

When they feasted, in those days, they feasted, and with much more variety than anything we would think of today.

The pictures were very evocative.

Hope your Christmas feast is just as sumptuous Steven!

steven said...

hello caroline - the sargent painting is so poignant and tells a story much larger than its subject doesn't it! thanks for visiting! have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hi bonnie - i love the words and images of long ago christmastime. it was so understandably different an experience to what we have now. not necessarily better but in some respects more appropriate and simpler. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hi barry - that seems to be true doesn't it! if they had the wherewithall they put together spectacular feasts and get-togethers. our christmas dinner will be rich with people. the food will be good (i'm the cook!) and fortunately plentiful! have a lovely day barry. steven

Golden West said...

I love the golden tone that connects all the pictures so warmly, Steven.

steven said...

hello golden west - my visitors from warmer climes were finding the iciness and snow a bit hard to handle so i thought i'd best warm the place up a bit! have a lovely day. steven

Queenmothermamaw said...

Steven I have so enjoyed reading your comments on some of the same blogs I visit, I just wanted to visit you and get to know you better. Your post today was so warm and iconic of Christmas past it is uplifting. I had done a post yesterday of Christmas past of your kiddos when they were little and just day dreaming I guess. All the blessings of Christmas to you and yours.
QMM

Silver said...

I am glad to have stumbled here. Reading through your older posts give one a sense of thoughtfulness, a moment of reflection. Very cool blog. Especially the snow flakes ;)

~Silver
Reflections

steven said...

hello qmm!! it's lovely to see you out and about!! i love christmas past and like most things in my life, i hold a rich and romantic view of it that i'm glad you enjoyed! have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello silver! welcome! i'm so glad you stumbled over here and now that you've righted yourself i'd like to tell you how gorgeous and rich your blogs are! wow! the food . . . the luxury! mmmmmmmm! have a peaceful day and i look forward to seeing you again. steven

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

Your last picture stirs my heart. Faithful animals left out in the cold says something about mankind to me.

steven said...

hi abe - i know you and i take special care of the critters who can't choose to snuggle up indoors during the cold days and nights of winter. i put the painting in as a reminder to myself and others to extend the loving care and kindness you give to your family and friends to those people and critters less firtunate for whom creature comforts are a wish rather than an expectation. have a lovely evening. steven

ewix said...

Enchanting as ever!
You have such excellent taste in Victorian genre scenes
and lots of other things too
Merry Christmas

steven said...

thankyou so much for visiting and i'm glad that you enjoyed your visit !!!!!! have a lovely evening and happy christmas! steven

Bee said...

I've just been thinking about that story -- as I always do at Christmas; as I always do when it snows. Doesn't it perfectly capture that Xmassy thing . . . that bridge to the past which is so much a part of the holiday?

"His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

steven said...

hello bee - yes it ties in so well in so many ways to the layering of memories and experiences of christmas. thankyou for adding in the gorgeous quote!!!! have a lovely day. steven