Mr. Alpenglow’s relatives are — how do you say it? — beasts in the kitchen. Our Christmas buffet is a primal affair. Each man, woman, and child gets a paper plate decorated with poinsettias. The rest is a strategic dilemma: To compose an elegant plate, one must resist the call of variety, running the risk that certain delicacies will be gone upon return; to maximize variety, one must embrace a cacophony of flavors, their hot mingled juices conspiring against a buckling paper vessel.


A. Fried bean curd roll with pork, bean sprouts, scallions.
B. Lightly pickled cucumbers.
C. Melange of bamboo shoots, fresh and dried.
D. Potato salad with smoked ham.
E. Tea-smoked egg.
F. Gelatinous braised beef shank.
G. Stir-fried shrimp with ginger and scallions.
H. Pork and tofu meatballs.
I. Roasted duck.
J. Red-cooked pork loin.
K. Braised pork ribs.
L. Kabocha squash cake “noodles” with sauteed bok choy.
M. Rice cakes with sauteed pickled mustard greens.
N. Lightly pickled bean sprouts, stir-fried.
O. Roasted chicken with soy sauce and wine.
P. Dry-fried green beans.
Q. Red-braised beef short ribs with caramelized onions.
R. Sticky rice with Chinese sausage, shitake mushrooms, and shallots.



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