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Many of my childhood memories are of sharing special meals with family and relatives. Taste is such a powerful sense. I once took a bite of blueberry pie and the flavor transported me back to my grandparents’ home in rural Jackson County, where I first learned to appreciate the fruits that each season brings. The holidays give us that opportunity to reawaken the palate, to gather with family and friends around our favorite foods in anticipation of a celebratory feast.
Reading this month’s cover story on festive foods (starting on page 50), I thought of some of the dishes my family serves at special meals—made from venison, traditional heirloom corn, wild rice, squash and other ingredients. I smiled as I read about other seasonal dishes, such as the Italian American Feast of the Seven Fishes served on Christmas Eve. Three local chefs, all of them of Italian heritage, shared some of their family stories of preparing this seafood tradition. Managing Editor Andrea Behling wrote it in an entertaining way, as if we are eavesdropping on a private conversation among best buds.
Another story about friends graces the December issue. Senior writer Doug Moe profiles three millennial priests (starting on page 64) and their journeys in answering the call to serve God. The three clergymen, who were ordained this past summer in the local diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, represent a growing number of young men entering the seminary. They share their unique views on faith against the backdrop of societal norms and the digital age. In a way, they are the fresh faces of the Catholic Church.
In addition to providing a wide mix of content in this month’s issue, it was equally important to ensure that our cover story highlight culinary traditions from various cultures in our local community. I am delighted that we’ve included sweets for the Festival of Lights, soul food for Kwanzaa, tamales for Christmas and challah for Hanukkah, among other ethnic specialties. Of course, we had to include fruitcake. Dan Curd, our longtime contributor, gives us the evolution of this holiday, uh, classic in his Relish column (page 96).
December gatherings allow us the chance to savor the flavors of the season. In this issue, I hope we’ve given you some ideas on how to spice up the offerings at your special celebrations. From the staff at Madison Magazine, we wish you a delicious holiday season.
Karen Michel is editor of Madison Magazine.