We could have a preamble, but, why bother? Look at you, in that sweater. I don’t care that everyone is having a stoop party featuring yarn atrocities this year, or any other year, young man—where are you even KEEPING your family jewels in those pants? No, don’t answer. Just heed these hints, for a more fruitful holiday season.


GIFT GIVING:

1. Sand. Everyone needs it, no one has it, you forgot to pack it out on your last trip to Bali. Don’t be that person. Give a bag. Get a bag? One can only hope.

2. Forgotten Tomatillo Sack: Brown paper sack! Sharpie! One hastily-scrawled recipe for green salsa! You’re a hero again! Just don’t get too cocky about it. You just found these in the basement. They could still be secretly rotten. It’s all part of the surprise of the season.

3. Peanut In Potentia: Note about the raptures of artisanal nut spreads optional, Crushing Rock™ mandatory.

4. You’ll Thank Me In The Morning: Twelve Tylenol PMs, thoughtfully woven into a decorative wreath. I got my first from Alistair—choose wisely, dear friends, in the giving. He was wrong. They do not ‘make a cream for that’.

5. Shiver Me Timbers: There are holiday socks, and then, there are holiday socks that have a toe weighted with lead on one side, and a nip of Schnapps on the other.

6. Rhassoul Me, Rhassoul You: Our resident mixologist is forever nattering on about the virtues of compost, and Uncle Randy likes to point out that he has always known that ‘sh*it’s got its uses’. You can lavish it on a tomato, or, you can lavish it on your pores at our company retreat. We prefer the mystery of the ‘surprise seed’ that someone perpetually sprouts midway through the sweat lodge.

7. Perpetual Tonnato: Look, there’s no delicate way to say it. We’re giving you a clock made out of veal.

8. Lardoyenne: Why, yes, this is a bust of Kim Novak that we’ve sculpted out of rendered pork fat. But, it’s for Anna Wintour.

9. The Thais That Bind: Aunt Lisel is unique in many ways, the least of which is the fact that chiles render her somewhat…costive. Should your maiden aunts suffer similarly, we suggest a thoughtful preparation of cod-liver oil suspended in isomalt spheres, decorated with a fine filigree of gold leaf. You’ve got the time. Her tract…doesn’t.

10. Barouche Penuche: I don’t know. Last year, it was all walnut skins wrapped delicately into parchment paper parcels tied with string at the Achatz household, and even if they were from Spain, we all felt a little cheated, yes? Counter-strike this year with a classic carriage rendered lovingly in the decadent Italian sweet. We’re coaxing midges into serving as equine partners, one molecule of hemoglobin at a time.

HOLIDAY SNACKS:

1. Hot Under The Collar: It is well past the dinner hour. Your 10 PM Entertaining Cookbook has gone missing. Give everyone a boullion cube, and station them beneath the mistletoe. It’s coming.

2. Water Water Everywhere Oh Wait That’s Cachaça: There is no tomorrow. There is only midnight, and this empty ketchup bottle. You poor fool.

3. Rock Around the Crock: Your guests will fail to notice that the crock is empty, with a liberal application of Peruvian Marching Powder at the base. What dreams of beans may come? Ruth Bourdain knows.

4. Burrata Barretta: If someone in your party is forever underestimating the sculptural properties of soft fresh cheese, set them straight accordingly. Best eaten in the driveway, by the privet hedge, with a side of tire iron.

5. Confit: It wasn’t the first time I wore a sweater exclusively woven from gelatinized foie. It won’t be the last. It will, however, be the last damn time that I forget the cornichons. Christ.

6. Aleppo Pimpernel: We find that while serving your guests poison sumac on your pita chips can quickly bring unforeseen, necessary truths to the fore, it’s often better to just stick with Aleppo pepper. Parties only need so many heroes, no? Pass the feta dip.

7. Morels Morays Mornay: I’m not going to spell everything out here—I’ll just say ‘rice flour: no’ and ‘wet-naps: better than nipple tassels’. Interpretation is part and parcel of honoring our traditional holiday pasts.

8. Brandy Bombay: I forgot to call her. Can you? Now, help me out with this chickpea. It is proving difficult.

9. Rue de Coco: Send Emeril’s chocolate fountain of yesteryear packing with a carefully thermo-regulated replica of the volcanic mass that simmers beneath the shifting crusts of Yellowstone, as rendered in gallons of molten Callebaut. You won’t need a catchphrase. You will need Bactine. And possibly gauze.

10. Dylan Thomas Wants You Still: I’ve laminated this small square of paper, and hidden it somewhere in your Nog. Merry Christmas, dear reader. I’ve forgotten what’s on there, but, let’s surmise that it was heartfelt, transcendent, and most definitely NOT a recipe for Prune Wiggle.