"we were framed to fail and die—/ One spell and well that one. There, ah thereby/ Is comfort’s carol of all or woe’s worst smart."
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, "To His Watch"
Saturday, December 6, 2008
In a journal on his three months in the States, printed in 1867, Henry Latham wrote about celebrating Christmas in the Baltimore countryside:
Christmas festivities had begun ; every ten minutes or oftener a gun or a squib was fired off, giving one the idea that the war had not ended yet at Ellicott's Mills. Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew "egg-nog" for all comers; everybody calls upon everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging. Egg-nog is made in this wise: our egg-nog was made so, and was decided after a good deal of nogging around, to be the brew in Ellicott's Mills: "Beat up the yolks of twelve eggs with powdered sugar, then beat up with them a pint of brandy, a quart of cream, and a quart of milk; lastly beat up the whites of your twelve eggs, and add them as a head and crown to your syllabub." It is made cold, and is drunk cold, and is to be commended. We had brought a store of sugar-plums, as the children all expect presents at this time. They hang up their stockings on Christmas Eve, and in the morning find them filled with goodies. At New York this is done by Criskindle (Christ kinde) and at Baltimore by Santa Claus (San Nicolas).I always enjoyed eggnog this time of year, but of course, I never make my own, and I doubt it could be called "nogging" even if I drank a whole quart myself. I prefer to buy the Southern Comfort brand. The flavor and thickness of this brand appeals to me most. Mayfield, which I believe is a great diary brand primarily in my region, has good flavor but it's too thin. Borden tastes bad, and I don't remember the others we rejected. Hood has some flavored eggnogs in my area, and they taste good, just not as good as Southern Comfort (which is non-alcoholic if you need to ask--do they sell alcoholic eggnog in grocery stores?).
I haven't tasted the benefits of mixing my nog with brandy, though I've done that a few times. I see that George Washington had his own recipe which used rye whiskey, rum and sherry--a stout drink of the stout-hearted. I couldn't handle it.
Do you like eggnog? Do you prefer one brand over another, or do you have a homemade recipe?