Drink Rituals and Snacks

Beryl B. Byles

Libiama ne’lieti calici, Brindisi from La Traviata, Verdi. Placido Domingo and Ileana Cotrubas
HOLIDAY DRINK RITUALS                                   
When I was still in school and living at home, I remember that when a tray containing special wine glasses and a decanter of sherry appeared, it was another signal that the holidays were ahead.	Since weather in the New Orleans area was not so different from what we experience here in Tampa, it was these family traditions that distinguished the holidays.
By the way, it was an honor to be asked to pour the sherry. I learned the “hard way” when I was visiting the family of a new high school friend and was asked to pour. Unaware of the honor it represented, I politely declined. When I relayed this story to my mother, she was horrified! Likely, the four years of high school I spent as a boarder limited the social part of my education. Boarding school certainly taught me independence, however, which has served me exceptionally well in my life.
I especially remember that in the 1940’s and 1950’s when friends of my parents would visit during the holidays, the adults sat at the dining room table. Daddy would bring out several different liqueurs and mother would provide the tiny, delicate glasses used only on this occasion. It was individual choice for the liqueur, but everyone had a slice of fruit cake. Now, much maligned, I still love fruit cake which brings back the sweet memory of those simple, special visits.
*Liqueurs included Grand Marnier, Curaçao, Benedictine, Kahlúa, Crème De Menthe, Drambuie, Triple Sec, B & B, and Crème de Cacao.
ROASTED SALTED PECANS                       	
You know how aromas carry memories?  The smell of these pecans roasting signaled that holidays were ahead.  When they were cooled and placed in elegant dishes, it was beginning to be Christmas!
They were sometimes added to festive holiday containers and served as gifts.  
Yield: About 4 cups. 
4 tablespoons butter 
1 pound pecan halves (about 4 cups) 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Add butter to a large baking sheet, place in oven for a couple of minutes to melt butter.
Remove baking sheet from oven, add pecans and salt, toss to coat, and spread in even layer.
Return baking sheet to oven and bake for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking time.  Check often to avoid burning.  
Store in a tightly sealed container or zip top bag until ready to serve.

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