Over the last few weeks, I have seen the trailer for the new Krampus movie on TV and it seems that Krampus is starting to get more well-known in the U.S. I am not into horror movies in general, so I have not considered watching this one (although the reviews have not been as bad as I thought they would be based on the trailer, and it seems that it was the most popular movie based on ticket sales on Friday).
I am worried what Hollywood has done to a traditional figure I have grown up with. Also, it is difficult for me to understand how this figure can be so fear-inspiring to base a whole movie on it – after all, even as a I kid I knew that Krampus was just a dressed up teenager/man. Even more common than the wooden masks with horns, fangs, and long tongue are the much more adorable renditions of the Krampus image on ginger bread, as pastry, or as hollow chocolate figurine.
A Collection of Krampus Cookies on Sale at a Seasonal Market in the US
It is hard to fear something that is not only delicious but also cute with only the slightest mischievous look as most edible renditions of Krampus are. I have always thought that the unknown is much scarier than anything well-known, and I am sure I have eaten more Krampus sweets in my life than I have seen the costume version. So it seems odd to me to choose Krampus as the main concept of a horror movie; now ghosts and possessions à la The Exorcist are a different story but not the grumpy side-kick of St. Nikolaus.
A Pastry Krampus – More Cute than Scary (found on www.ichkoche.at which also includes recipe for these cute guys)
PS: I am curious to see how popular this movie will be in Austria.
The Grinch, a fictional character created by Dr. Seuss, is known by most in the U.S. but an exotic import strongly associated with American culture for Austrians. Most know of him only through the movie or TV show and not the book. In general, Dr. Seuss’s work is not as popular as it is in the U.S. For example, Amazon.de showed the German version of the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas on rank 284,780 in books sold and that during Holiday season when the book can be expected to be more popular than throughout the rest of the year. Amazon.com, however, listed it under rank 161 for all books and number 1 for children’s books on the same day I checked the German site. The Grinch, by the way, keeps his name in the German translation although the spelling is awkward. I do not understand the popularity of Dr. Seuss’s work, but I guess one had to grow up with his books and be introduced to them as a child to really “get” or like the books.
One Grinch next to Another
I knew about the Grinch before I moved to the U.S. and would think of a green character in a Santa suit when I heard name, but I never knew the details of the story. I assumed he stole or tried to steal Christmas based on the title; based on the illustrations of the book cover in stores and the poster for the movie with Jim Carrey, I also assumed that the Grinch was anti-Christmas and in general not in the best mood and was dressed just like Santa. But when I see green combined with a Santa suit, I do react the predictable way and associate the colors with the Grinch. Thus, I was fascinated by the idea of creating a Grinch out of fruit for potlucks and other meals this season, and it was usually recognized as a portrayal of the Grinch by those who ate them.
Ingredients for the fruit Grinch: green grapes, strawberries, banana slices (soaking in lime Juice so they do not turn yellow, and small marshmallows. Use toothpicks to create the Grinch.
Vanilla Cake with Frosting to Look Like Turkey with Stuffing
Thanksgiving is one of most typical American holidays that do not exist in the traditional American form in Austria. I enjoy Thanksgiving – but who would not enjoy a holiday that appears to be mostly focused around food, and a lot of it. It seems a large part of the tradition for this holiday is to eat as much food as possible in one sitting or day. Of course the holiday centers around the theme of gratitude and giving thanks and this does play its role. Every Thanksgiving scene in an American movie or sitcom seems to include the obligatory part where the characters sit at the table and mention what they are grateful for. And I am sure this scene does happen at some Thanksgiving parties in reality as well.
Other less known traditions that I have learned over the last few years of celebrating Thanksgiving in California are that Thanksgiving includes a game of flag football, plenty of football on T.V., a large parade in New York City but shown on T.V., a wide variety of pies, turkey decorations, and ingenious ways to use leftover turkey meat in sandwiches over the next few days following Thanksgiving. In California, for me Thanksgiving also means eating outside and ending the evening with s’mores over the open fire. I would never associate Thanksgiving with snow since I have never celebrated the holiday anywhere else than Northern California and so far the weather has always cooperated each year with sunshine and warm weather since I moved here.
Small Plate of Typical Thanksgiving Food: Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes, Mac and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Carrots
Sweet Potatoes with Pecans
Thanksgiving Turkey Cooked on the Barbeque
My friend and her husband are always gracious Thanksgiving hosts that would make Martha Stewart feel inadequate with their effort put into the feast. I am not allowed to bring any food or drinks but always leave with leftovers – the best kind of invitation. They barbeque the turkey, serve every traditional Thanksgiving side dish that I have ever read about online or in a cooking magazine, and bake several pies and cakes. It is always the perfect meal to eat every typical American food dish that I have heard about in movies. This year also included a cake shaped like a turkey with frosting giving the cake turkey the perfect color and texture. And the evening ended with hot chocolate with a kick (scotch) and s’mores. After Independence Day with its over-the-top firework shows, Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite U.S. holiday. Considering that Austrians love their food and drinks, I am surprised that we do not have a holiday that is more focused on food.
Apple Pie, Cheese Cake, Minced Meat Pie, Pecan Pie