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Holiday Cooking – Height of the Flavor Season

Holiday Cooking – Height of the Flavor Season

K.M. Robbins about the many flavorful cooking pleasures of the Holiday Season.
By K.M. Robbins

I look forward to October, November, and December as the yearly appearance of so many of my favorite seasonal dishes:  pumpkin spice soy milk, pumpkin spice lattes, peppermint lattes, gingerbread coffee creamer, mint chocolate everything.    

However, it feels like companies, when it comes to flavor creativity, shoot the wad this time of year.  For three months, the aisles are piled high with seasonal things.  The dairy section can’t contain all the coffee flavorings.  Starbucks’s menu can barely transition the overlap of pumpkin spice to eggnog latte to gingerbread.  Pumpkin loaves and bagels fight cranberry packed breads for space on the counters. 

And, oh yes, the eggnog.  If you can put eggnog in it, it will be there. 

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I even saw on Huffington Post that you can get seasonal flavored seltzer water in Eggnog, Candy Cane, Pumpkin Spice, and Granny Smith.  I’m sure there are great cocktails out there using such seltzer flavors, but does the world really need Pumpkin Spice flavored water?

If the stores aren’t bursting enough, the recipe machines are at their height.  Everyone is generating Thanksgiving and Christmas must have dishes.  Magazines and food sites are overflowing with pictures and ideas.  Everyone is rushing to get you ready for the season.     

Then, January will come.   On the arrival, it will be like the air goes out of the flavor production factory. We go back to the standards of hazelnuts and French vanillas.  Starbucks used to launch their Cinnamon Dolce Latte in January, but now those are year round.  Is there even a post-Christmas seasonal drink in Starbucks?
In all fairness, the Fall is a great time for flavors.  Pumpkin and Fall squashes have so much adaptability.  Sweet, savory, spicy, filling, they do whatever you want them to.  Fall also lends itself to the warm spices of ginger, sage, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary–all such strong and familiar spices. Then, there are the December seasonal favorites of peppermints and eggnong and gingerbread that are so completely tied to Christmas that it feels like heresy to have them any other time. 
But, enjoy it all while you can.  Get your fill of pumpkin and cranberries.  Relish the burst of cinnamon and rosemary and thyme.  Take in the creativity and nuances and variety. 
Because come January, you better have you tastebuds satiated.  When December ends, the weight loss begins, and the flavors sleep-off the three month bender until the next holiday.  
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