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Eggnog: A Christmas Cocktail By: Shana McKie

Setting The Table

The dish I chose to create with my cookbook project is eggnog. Eggnog today is considered a Christmas drink made from eggs, cream, cinnamon, and oftentimes alcohol (Williams). It is said that the origins of eggnog come from the European culture in the 13th century (Graham). In the early 13th century, milk and eggs were scarce to come by, so this drink was a sacred drink for Europeans to indulge in during times of life that were more significant, such as birthdays and celebrations (Graham). Traditionally this beverage was made during celebratory times, such as a holiday like Christmas. This creamy, sweet drink was very rare and truly an important sign of wealth in this time. It was not a common drink and it was set apart from the norm in which it was only used during certain times of life and in the year. Some people during this time may have never even had the opportunity to taste this drink and that is what truly makes it special as well as important. In today’s culture, we typically only see eggnog in the winter-time primarily surrounding the holiday of Christmas. Only having this drink during Christmas is one thing that sets it apart and even though we have full access to milk and eggs now, this drink could still be considered sacred due to the timing of when we, as a culture, decide to drink it. Even though this is a common holiday drink in America, I have never tasted it because the thought of raw eggs in a drink doesn’t seem that appealing to me. The reason I chose this dish is truly because I have never tried it even though it is common in my Christian faith to drink this beverage. Even though this may seem like an easy dish to make, it truly isn’t, due to the fact that there are many steps in perfecting this dish. I will have to separate the eggs before even adding them to the drink. Then I will have to whisk all of the different ingredients together one by one starting with the egg yolks and sugar. I could run into many struggles trying to create this drink, but the main problem that I will run into is that almost all eggnog recipes are made with some sort of alcohol in order to make the raw eggs safe to drink, and I cannot use that for a college class. This dish is absolutely religious for many different reasons. The first reason I would like to express is that it is only used surrounding one holiday, Christmas, which means that we sacredly drink this over a period of time. It is separated from the everyday which, by definition, makes this religious. It is also considered religious because it is created by one specific group of people who celebrate the same things, Christians. More specifically it is typically consumed by those who celebrate Christmas and no one else and considering that Christmas is a holiday celebrated by most Christians that makes it a religious sacred practice.

Although eggnog can sound absolutely horrifying and quite honestly disgusting, I have heard that it is truly a delicious Christmas cocktail. Of course, I cannot drink this alcoholic beverage because I am underage, but don’t worry! I will be making this delicious drink without any alcohol so that we could all try it. It is not known where eggnog comes from exactly, but there are many theories regarding this festive drink. These theories range from an old English word meaning “Strong Beer” all the way to deriving from the word ‘noggin’, which simply means “small cup” (Graham). Although we may not know exactly where this drink’s name came from, we do have an idea of where the recipe and the idea of this drink originated. At least, most historians can agree on where this Christmas refreshment really came from (Dias). There are many unique foods that were in existence even before the establishment of the United States of America, but one thing that is not well-known is that eggnog can be included on that list. According to the Time article by Dias, even George Washington had a recipe for his own “special” eggnog which was different than any others before. This is proof that eggnog has been around for centuries and will survive, hopefully, until the end of time. The history around eggnog is admittedly interesting, yet somewhat scarce. History is not my personal strong suit, so as I moved towards studying eggnog, I was slightly concerned about how appealing the background regarding eggnog could be. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this search when I saw how long this tradition has been around. This tradition has been around for generations, as I have previously said, dating even before the birth of America. This makes eggnog a staple in American tradition. It is said that eggnog stems from a medieval drink that was only consumed by the wealthy and well-off people (Brown). Many folks believe that this drink was a true delicacy and it was something to be highly celebrated. This drink was relatively sacred then, which is reflected in today’s society, as we mainly drink eggnog during a specific celebratory time: Christmas. This lush drink was very rare and sincerely an important sign of wealth and celebration. This was not a common drink in the past generations, due to the inclining price of milk and eggs, but when it traveled to the Americas in the 1700s it quickly became a significant part of our holiday celebration (Dias). Having this drink primarily during Christmas is something that connects this dish back to the medieval times when this drink was conceived and wealthy individuals strictly consumed it for celebratory reasons. It is still considered sacred due to the timing of when we, as a culture, decide to drink it. This heavily relates to our discussions in class and our four immediate themes, but this section fits densely with our theme surrounding religious freedom. The reason being is, if the Americas were prohibited from celebrating their religious practices freely, then eggnog would no longer exist in our country, resulting in the extinction of this delicious treat. Something that I find very intriguing in this beverage is the presence of raw eggs and how everyone seems to be fascinated with them. Common knowledge states, eating raw eggs could in return cause you to become very sick and may possibly be deadly, but what may not be common knowledge is that within the way this specific drink has been prepared, the eggs cannot cause illness. This beverage has to be stored for at least a month and is to be forty percent alcohol to be safe, but this is easily done (Brown). In my mind, this is a lot of alcohol, but then again, I do not drink alcohol. It also needs to be heated to a specific degree to prevent bacteria from entering the drink (Brown). This can also be related to our theme of well-being because it is important to find ways to create this beverage safely, while keeping in mind that it is made with raw eggs and could be potentially dangerous to the human body. This also can relate to our discussion around environmental justice because to specific people, such as vegans, eating eggs is considered harmful to an environmental creature: the hen. Eggnog has been passed down from generation to generation and this is no secret, but this passing does not always result in the same outcome. Many changes occur within the different generations of eggnog such as, originally it was made with milk and eggs, but now it is made with many other ingredients like cinnamon and rum. Different generations create different recipes and different lifestyles, so it is really no surprise that eggnog is also upon this list. It is said that the origins of eggnog come from the European culture, specifically England, in the 13th century and in this time, many things differed from today’s culture. In the early 13th century, milk and eggs were scarce to come by, so this drink was said to be sacred for Europeans to indulge in during times of life that were more significant. Obviously now milk and eggs are very easy to find and are truly not that expensive so this creates an easier way to make eggnog (Dias). This can slightly relate to the theme of social justice because we as a society have formed the recipe for eggnog around societal changes. There are always many different renditions of histories within everything and this is because we were not there to experience these things firsthand, thus making it much more difficult to know the truth. This dish is extremely historic, considering how long it has been prepared and the different cultures that have prepared it. It is separated from the everyday, thus making it religious and helping us to show our religious freedom. More specifically it is typically consumed by those who celebrate Christmas and in the past, has been used as a celebratory drink for years. I will never understand the way that history works and how eggnog can get passed down from medieval times all the way to modern day Christmas, but it is not my job to figure out the way of the world, only for me to share it with you.

Kitchen Time

I made the lush, silky Christmas beverage, eggnog… Or at least it was supposed to be deliciously lush. Purchasing the ingredients for my dish was truly the easiest part of this experience. First, I grabbed my wallet and headed over to Hy-Vee to get all of the ingredients I needed including, twelve eggs, vitamin D milk, cane sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and most importantly, what we as a class used to make butter, heavy whipping cream. I was so excited to start cooking on this beautiful Sunday, so I raced back to my house to find my best friend to record and take pictures of the process. I figured it would be a breeze from here, but I was sorely mistaken. In order to prepare this drink, I opened the sugar, which obviously smelled sweet, but it was a subtle smell and it make me feel happy. I was happy because sugar is really delicious and it makes up all of the treats that we get to eat. I took out my measuring cup and I measured out 1 ¼ cup of sugar and poured it into the bowl carefully, to not spill. Then I got to cracking! Crack an egg, pour an egg, crack an egg, pour an egg: this went on for about five minutes, but I knew it would all be worth it in the end. Twelve eggs later and it was time to whisk! I was afraid of this part because I didn’t want to make a huge mess everywhere, and not only that, but I have never whisked anything before in my life. This was easy too! I kept thinking to myself “This is too easy, something is wrong” and boy was I right, but I am getting ahead of myself. I then moved everything to a medium sauce pan, then I opened my favorite part, the milk. Sweet, sweet milk. Milk is my favorite because I can drink a whole gallon of milk on my own, but I would get sick so maybe I won't. Milk has the most amazing qualities and you can drink it with pretty much anything, this is why I love milk. Instantly, to my surprise, I was disgusted with the results of my twisting, I had gotten rotten milk! I quickly closed the bottle and glanced at the expiration date which was, as I thought when we left the store, 3/26/19. So, I just moved on with my life and continued by running back to the store in order to get a new half-gallon of milk. I will admit it was annoying, but not the worst thing that could’ve happened. When we reached my house, once again, I measured out one cup of milk and poured it into the sauce pan. It was starting to look like something more than just the start of scrambled eggs, and this made me happy. Then I turned the oven to a temperature somewhere between low and medium and continued to stir and stir, no matter what I had to keep stirring and this is because we don’t want to have scrambled eggs, we want eggnog! I didn’t have the thermometer that they were asking for in the recipe, so I just used what I had which was a turkey thermometer. The mixture had to be at 160 degrees and nothing more. During this process I added the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream. I personally love cinnamon, so when I opened the bottle the smell made me feel at home. Growing up, the only time of year that I was truly happy was during Christmas, and the scent of cinnamon is something I will always remember around Christmas time. This is why cinnamon makes me feel at home, even when it isn't Christmas. The nutmeg was a different story, I wasn’t expecting to add a savory smelling spice into my eggnog, but I just continued to trust the recipe. We all already know that the heavy whipping cream doesn’t smell good in the slightest, it kind of smelled like that rotten milk I had gotten. As I was moving forward in the mixing process, I noticed that the cinnamon and nutmeg were not mixing very well with everything else. So, I checked over the recipe and realized, a bit too late, that I had used a tablespoon of each instead of a teaspoon and this really made a difference in the end result. After what seemed like hours of mixing, the mixture was finally at the correct temperature and was ready to be cooled. I decided to move this drink into three different sealable jars, for safe keeping, and I refrigerated them for 24 hours before tasting. After the excruciating 24 hours of waiting, I opened the sealed containers and tasted the eggnog… It was not the best thing I have ever tasted, but it wasn’t bad. It was kind of chunky and thick which is why I hated it so much, but I loved the cinnamon flavor. I am huge on texture when eating, so given the texture of this drink, I didn’t enjoy it. My best friend on the other hand, loved the flavor of the eggnog and she thought it may have been over spiced, but we already knew that. Overall this was a really great experience and I am glad that I choose to do eggnog as my dish because I had never tasted it before. Although I didn’t really like it, I am still glad that I tried it because now, when I am old enough, I can try a different Christmas cocktail.

Indigestion

If you are a fan of eggnog, you might question why anyone would have conflict surrounding this delicious beverage and you might be surprised to find out that many conflicts arise regarding eggnog. Conflict surrounding religion is nothing new to society, but conflict around eggnog could be a new concept. In our everyday life, we usually don’t think eating raw eggs is great for anyone to do, due to many illnesses surrounding this. So, why would eating eggnog not raise a concern for our health and overall well-being? It might be surprising that eggnog has possible conflicts with our well-being, social justice, environmental justice, and our religious freedom. As I stated previously, eating raw eggs can be seen as a health concern in regards to illnesses brought from the feces of a chicken. Although eating raw eggs can have most of the same health benefits as cooked eggs, eating raw eggs raises many health concerns about the risk of the Salmonella infection (Palsdottir). When making eggnog you not only use raw eggs, but you use a dozen of raw eggs. This can be extremely dangerous if the recipe isn’t cooked to the correct temperature. This is obviously the most concerning health issue surrounding anything made with raw eggs, including eggnog. Another well-being concern surrounding eggnog could be the amount of alcohol that is used in the recipe. It is common knowledge that drinking alcohol can lead to many heath concerns including liver damage, alcohol poisoning, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in pregnant women, and even death in some cases (Freeman). Now eggnog doesn’t usually use very much alcohol in the recipes, so it might not be as much of an overall well-being concern, but of course it is still a slight concern. Many people in the world and within religion are either vegan or vegetarian, this is no secret. Common knowledge states that vegetarians can eat eggs because it is not technically meat, but vegans absolutely cannot eat eggs at all. This is absolutely a concern regarding social justice and could even relate back to environmental justice. Vegans do not eat anything that comes from an animal including meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and anything else that could potentially harm the animals. One reason eggs in particular are against vegan practice is because the hens that produce them are kept in horrible living conditions, therefore it is not safe for the hen to be producing eggs in such a negative environment (Gate). Social justice is not met in a vegan’s eyes until all animals are safe from harm and neglect, including chickens. Environmental justice is also not met because we are letting these hens live in horrible conditions and then we are continuing to ignore it because we eat the eggs. Another way that environmental justice can be seen as a problem when making this dish is the amount of waste that we produce when cooking it. A lot of the time we don’t think about how important reducing waste can truly be. This is no different when cooking, it is almost most important then. When making this dish it was very noticeable how much waste I was creating, just to have a drink. It could be argued that this waste could be recycled, but most people do not have a way to recycle waste, or they do not know how. This could be avoided by doing a bit of research, using reusable bags, or even using reusable containers (Kearns). Something else that could arise a conflict when making eggnog is that this originated from the Christian faith and today, people of all faiths are creating this beverage. This could create conflict because it may not seem fair to those of Christian faith that people of other faiths get to celebrate in the same way. This may be unfair to those who are trying to enjoy this beverage, as there should not have to be any claim to exclusivity with eggnog. So, this can be avoided by just loving the dish and people no matter what, but not everyone can do this. Therefore, many conflicts can arise in making any dish and eggnog is no exception. These conflicts can be avoided in many different ways, but as Americans we tend to try and find the easy way out of many different things, including cooking. Eggnog would absolutely not be the first choice for vegans, but Christians will most likely choose it always. Regardless, it will always be a delicious treat.

If I can be entirely honest here, I choose this dish because it looked extremely easy, but to my surprise I was wrong. I also picked this dish because I had never tried it before and I wanted to know what all of the Christmas hype was about. Turns out I wasn’t in on the hype for a reason, I hated this beverage. My relationship to it now is just pure hatred and I am not sure if I just created this dish incorrectly or if it really just always tastes that disgusting. I do love cooking though, so I was happy to make the dish primarily because it meant I got to create something in the kitchen. This showed me that even when I step out of the box and try something new, it won’t always turn out the best, but this doesn’t mean I will stop trying new things! I usually do not enjoy desserts, let alone a dessert beverage, but I gave it a chance and it showed me that most dessert is something I will not enjoy. This dish is religiously significant because it is used during celebratory times. Christmas will always be a time of celebration with or without eggnog, but it is always a plus to have something to drink. Milk and eggs were considered sacred with this dish was created, and it continues to be sacred today, only for different reasons. I don’t really see a pattern of religious significance in the foods I eat regularly, but after this experience, I am more open to the fact that most foods can somehow have religious significance. I really did enjoy making this dish and watching other people enjoy it even though I did not. I will forever be grateful that this is how I came to know that I really do hate eggnog.

THE END

Credits:

Created with images by Joanna Kosinska - "untitled image" • jill111 - "egg nog eggnog nog" • jill111 - "egg nog christmas drink" • Tom Rickhuss - "MERRY ❤️ XMAS" • wisconsinpictures - "christmas background lights" • Evelyn - "untitled image" • PublicDomainPictures - "egg white ecru" • jarmoluk - "drink alcohol cup" • Jeremy Julian - "untitled image"

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