HYGGE (HUE-gah) is a Danish word and one of those without a direct English equivalent. It is best approximated across several words like comfort, coziness, well-being, happiness, contentment, family, friends and simplicity. It is used to acknowledge a moment, whether alone or among others, at any given place, extraordinary or mundane as somehow unique — a feeling that each one experiences in their way. It’s in the keen appreciation of the everyday domestic, recognizing and taking the time to enjoy the present and just being in it. It’s a natural incorporation into life rather than a contrived ideal.
Following up to what turned out to be a highly enjoyable Thanksgiving potluck that we held on assignment last year, The PussyKat and I fell into regular, special, close work-life relations with a small group of friends in our industry. Random, as we call these, get-togethers became more frequent as did our collaborative projects to wind down. There came about the awareness of the excellent company and great times. Of the many, we found togetherness and warmth, especially around good food and drink. Hygge. That trending buzzword, a movement, some say, and our collective realization had it pegged as our next gathering’s theme.
Recently having taken over the home I grew up in, we took to simplifying the existing eclectic collection of furniture to allow it to breathe. Carpets, throws and other items we picked up from our travels found new places to settle in to create a space with décor that spoke to us personally. Real sheepskin is draped on the couch armrest. A beautiful, naturally-fallen tree branch now haphazardly adorns a corner. Jatropha trimmings made a makeshift holiday wreath. A somewhat contemporary, minimalist Christmas tree held only equally minimalist real candy cane adornments. A blonde A-frame picnic table was set, candles lit, and we were ready.
Cassava crackers from a recent excursion to a neighboring island welcomed the guests with the accompanying artisanal pesto spread and pimiento cream cheese. Buffalo mozzarella from that Bo-haul ended up on a cheese board with some picks from a recent holiday bazaar: Mango Sublime Chevre and Blush Blue Cheese.
I popped open a gifted bottle of champagne a week earlier than the intended celebratory mark of the end of a diet cycle to incorporate it into our welcome drinks. The entire content was further brightened by sparkling grape juice and sweetened with grapes plus cubed Granny Smiths for our Christmosas — Christmas Mimosas.
Milk was stirred into a whisked mixture of raw egg yolks and condensed milk with rum, cream, vanilla essence and nutmeg. Freshly-whisked raw egg whites were incorporated into the previously chilled mixture and dusted with ground cinnamon for Nath’s delicious first attempt at making eggnog. Soup to start with was Cream of Mushroom served in sourdough bread bowls. As Scandinavia does not have rice as a staple, none was served and, with boiled pearl potatoes as the only alternative, guests observably gravitated towards the baked starch.
I make a mean taco salad, and we found the perfect capsicums in the ultraviolet color of 2018 to stuff the mix into. Ground lean beef was browned and cooked with cayenne, onion, garlic, tomato sauce and paprika to mix with garbanzos and corn kernels all topped generously with grated quickmelt cheese. The pepper shells were kept relatively fresh with only a minute’s nuking to keep it crunchy.
Shari whipped up her Jamie Oliver recipe-meatballs made different in leaps and bounds from your bola-bola with its ground pork and beef mixture with parmesan cheese. Packet cream gravy and bottled Lingonberry jam made it give IKEA’s Kottbullar a run for its money.
Fried chicken is ThePussyKat’s all-time favorite and specialty. Panko-breaded wings and drumsticks rounded off the menu.
Stan represented his wines & spirits distribution well with Chardonnay and a particular vintage of Torrontes. It was unwise to possibly kill the flavor of those whites with that of cocoa but his Chocolate Decadence cake was not to be ignored. There was that errant Eggtart, too.
I have an open revulsion for Munchkins at potlucks, but I have established in that last write-up (pornografeed.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/just-potlucky/) that one is never complete without these. Zeke thoughtfully brought a box. Extra choco butternut.
Cups of Thai milk tea were passed around to digest with over more conversation. Stan’s snoring later woke us from the food coma we found ourselves to have slipped into. The incredibly long lunch extended into a dinner of leftovers. A de rigueur photoshoot pushed us back into the night to end with rough plans for the next gathering.
All present apparently enjoyed each other’s company. All present enjoyed each moment. All present were in the present. All were hyggelict.