When It Comes To Eggs? Nog Makes the Grade
Eggs. Sure, they’re a food staple and a fave for many worldwide. Me? I’m not one of those people. For yours truly, when it comes to eggs, they’d better be cooked into brownies or a cake, because that’s about the extent of my yolking around.
That said, however, I recall a Christmas gathering my parents threw, circa 1975 or so. That puts me about 7 or 8 years old, tops, watching the harried preparations for the evening’s festivities. One of the things I took notice of? This strange brew in a tall, metal can. I’d never seen anything like it before. And, when Mom popped the can opener into it and started
pouring it into a punch bowl? The notion of drinking such a beverage was all-but nauseating. Eggs? In a thick, warm drink? For a kid who already had a strong aversion to eggs, this was simply too reprehensible to consider.
Coming out of the ‘fridge, the stuff had started looking more like an off-color milkshake than anything to do with chicken offspring. Not to mention, it smelled good, too. Nothing like scrambled or over-easy. When Mom sprinkled on a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon? My resolve broke. Sure, I’d try a sip.
Sip, nothing. This was some good stuff. Of course, later on, I’d be relegated to the egg nog in the refrigerator, because something had been done to that egg nog out on the serving table, but the mystery of spiked egg nog aside, there was no doubt. I’d been converted.
The history of egg nog? Who really cares. It’s been around forever, making it about as retro as Santa himself. It’s been associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas in the U.S. for generations. The ‘nog’ in egg nog may be rooted in the word noggin, which referred to a small wooden cup. But again, with the history so much in debate, I wonder if it makes any difference. It sure doesn’t to me.
I remember years following that Christmas party, when the calendar would get down to it’s final page or two, and I’d start noticing egg nog in the supermarket. Surprise-surprise, as over the years, you didn’t have to buy it in those big, metal cans. You could get it in half-gallon containers, right at the local supermarket. No can opener necessary. Already refrigerated. Meaning, ready to drink!
About fifteen years ago, my parents had moved to South Florida, as had my sister and brother-in-law. I was still living in New York, and it looked like I was going to miss Christmas with the family for the first time in my life. As the Fall drew to a close, I figured out a way to schedule a photo shoot on the East coast of Florida for my job, which would allow me to take a couple of days off and shoot over in time for Christmas. My parents had no idea I was coming. I’d told them the photo shoot was in Los Angeles. My sister and brother-in-law had no clue, either. That Christmas eve, I sped-nope, not ashamed to admit it-across Florida to make it home for Christmas. On the way, I stopped at a convenience store with a pay phone (remember those?), and checked in, so I could be sure they were all at my parents’ place, and not out looking at Christmas lights or something festive like that. They were.
I checked in with a family friend at the community’s front gate, who was in on the surprise. I parked in a neighbor’s driveway so as not to alert anyone. Then I took the key out of the hiding place my Mom always leaves it, and snuck into the house.
Carrying three bags. That little convenience store with the pay phone? They had egg nog. Lots of it. And while I was pretty sure Mom and Dad would be stocked up-even if they didn’t think I was coming-you simply cannot have enough egg nog at Christmastime.
I think we put the finishing touches on about a gallon of the good stuff. No fat-free, skim-nog for us. Remember, it only shows up once a year, you can afford the occasional glass of high octane.
Whether you learned the difference between this egg nog and the egg nog you were supposed to stay away from during a parents’ party, family get-together, at a friends’ sleepover, whatever, you probably have a good egg nog memory to pass along. I’ve done everything in my power to ensure I never missed a Christmas with my immediate family. That year I walked into the house with a gallon and a half of egg nog, wearing my Santa hat? That’s one that still stands out.
More so than being unable to figure out why the that egg nog had a funny, bitter taste at the party in ’75, you know?