Monday, December 14, 2015

K.A.C. 2015 - T - 11 ...

     Today we touch on that perennial favorite this time of year, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Most people have been led to believe that is the whole title of the book, but they're wrong. The complete title is A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being A Ghost Story of Christmas, by Charles Dickens. It was first published on December 19th, 1843, was an immediate hit with audiences and is one of the few books that has never been out of print since its initial publication. There have been many adaptations of the tale in all forms of media: radio, television and feature films. The consensus for the best feature adaptation of the tale goes to the 1951 version, starring Alistair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge (seen at left). In fact, when the film was first released in England, it went under the title of Scrooge - it was only when the film played in America that it went under the title of A Christmas Carol. 

     One of the more fascinating pieces of trivia about this film (and Alistair Sim, in particular) came to light just a few days ago, courtesy of the new book entitled Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957 - 1972, by Mark Voger. In it, Voger interviewed Russ Jones, the founding editor of Creepy (the 1960's version of the old EC Comics of the '50s, and the cornerstone of the Warren Publishing empire of the '60s and '70s (the other titles being Eerie, Vampirella and Famous Monsters of Filmland)). In the interview, Jones mentioned the magazine's host who introduced all the early terror tales, Uncle Creepy (pictured at right in a portrait by Frank Frazetta),  was based on none other than ... Alistair Sim! I'm not sure I can ever watch this version of A Christmas Carol the same way again! :)

     If you've ever read the original novella (and I bring it out to re-read every year about this time), one of the things that strikes you about it is just how descriptive Dickens was regarding what foods his characters were eating, from Scrooge's original gruel before Marley's ghost arrives to the feast put forth by Old Fezziwig and the roast goose with all the fixings that the Cratchit's made do with for their Christmas dinner. 

     The food is so memorable and detailed throughout the book that in 1851, one of the first "tie-ins" to the tale arrived. Entitled What Shall We Have For Dinner?, it was attributed to one Lady Maria Clutterbuck, which was actually a pseudonym for Catherine Thomson Dickens, Charles' wife! It's a slim volume full of menus based on the meals mentioned in the story, so if you would like to recreate the contents of the Fezziwig's groaning food board some year at your holiday soiree, here's the step-by-step way to go about it! The book is available through Amazon at the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/What-Shall-Dinner-Maria-Clutterbuck/dp/117543163X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1449259553&sr=8-2&keywords=what+shall+we+have+for+dinner 

     Below is a link to an article about the book, complete with some menus for you to try out:

http://articles.philly.com/1993-12-22/food/25944034_1_red-hot-chestnuts-cherry-cheeked-apples-plum-pudding 

     Bon appetit! 

     **************************************************************************
     Coming Tomorrow: Much less appetizing Christmas food rears its ugly head ... are you brave enough to try these 'delicacies'?

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