Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: at the table

REPORTER FILE PHOTO
Mr. Lomuscio takes a trip down memory lane with family holiday dinners.

I have always looked forward to this time of the year. Everyone always seems to be in a good mood during the holidays for both religious and secular reasons. The whole idea of “peace on earth” embraces a concept that crosses all political and religious lines. It’s hard to argue about it or disagree.

So most of us who are retired have plenty of time to get things ready for the season. I just completed placing candles in all the windows of my house and just put up the tree. I have not done any decorating. I’ll wait for my grandchildren to come over to help me do it. We’ll make a little party out of it. That’s become our tradition. 

Another tradition that I have come to enjoy is having a standing rib roast for Christmas dinner. Last year I went to my son’s house in Jersey and brought the roast and cooked it there. If I make dinner here (which I am not doing this year) roast beef rare is always on the menu.

I always love the taste of the crispy outside pieces sprinkled with salt. I try to sneak pieces when I am carving the roast. Can’t beat these tasty morsels.

But it has become increasingly difficult to have this menu item for everyone at the table. There are vegan and vegetarian family members who might now come to the table. And even some of those who do eat meat get concerned about the cholesterol in a nicely marbleized prime rib roast.

And I suppose that it’s good to be concerned about our diets. Meat gets a bad rap these days. When I was growing up meat was always part of dinner. It was very basic: meat, potatoes and vegetables. And we always had bread and salad. One day was meatless — that was Friday when the menu always included some kind of fish.

According to an article in the recent AARP Bulletin by Clint Carter, the World Health Organization recommends no more than three servings per week of red meat. The organization also identifies processed meats like bacon and pepperoni as carcinogens with no benefit to eating any amount.

I guess that should keep us away from tasty items like hot dogs and hot pastrami sandwiches. And according to Carter we do know that research shows an 18% increased risk of heart disease mortality from one serving a day of red meat and a 23% increase in breast cancer risk for women who eat the most red meat.

I do remain skeptical about items being touted today as meatless burgers. I have not tried one but wonder what one has to do with vegetables to make them taste like a juicy rare hamburger. I must try one.

And I do know some individuals who forego meats except for chicken and turkey. They eat chicken and turkey chili, turkey burgers, chicken sausage and other iterations of poultry. They’re supposed to be better than red meat, they believe.

I remember my 96-year-old mother being warned by one of her granddaughters that she should not eat ham sandwiches or use too much salt. She always politely accepted the warning. 

So go ahead and enjoy your holiday dinners whether they consist of juicy red meat, lots of quinoa and kale or roast chicken. What matters most is the loved ones getting together to celebrate.