E is for Eggnog

Eggnog has since time beyond recall been an alcoholic beverage. Perhaps it stretches a point to call it a cocktail, since you're unlikely to get an eggnog at your local tavern. However, since I couldn't think of any other cocktails that start with "E" (and believe me, I tried), eggnog it is.

Funny story about eggnog: as I was growing up, my family drank eggnog as a whiskey-based mix. Other people used rum or brandy, but we used whiskey. Every year, as we set up the Christmas tree, the adults would have a few largish glasses of eggnog, while we kids were allowed very small glasses, just to taste.

Imagine my surprise when I spent my first Christmas with my wife's family. They were shocked when I did a double-take (almost a spit-take) when I tasted my glass of eggnog. When I stopped coughing, I was indignant on their behalf, almost outraged at the crime that had been perpetuated on them.

"You've been robbed!" I said. "Whoever you got this eggnog from didn't put any booze in it at all!"

At their blank, shocked looks, I suddenly realized that, maybe I had completely misinterpreted the situation. Maybe they hadn't been rooked. Maybe they used mild brandy? Or maybe they used akvavit or vodka? Something whose taste was completely buried under the cream, cinnamon and nutmeg? Or maybe they were just exceedingly parsimonious with their alcohol of choice, so much so that I completely missed the taste of it?

While they stared at me and I blushed crimson, I quickly took another sip. No, there was nothing. Could it be that they weren't just careful with the whiskey in the eggnog? Could they in truth be so tight-fisted as to skip it entirely? But at Christmas? To be ungenerous at Christmas?

Suffice to say, an awkward conversation ensued.

Eventually, I came to understand that I'd married into a family who had never even heard of putting alcohol in eggnog. To them, eggnog was not, and was never intended to be, an alcoholic beverage. I went on to learn that there are entire cultures just like them, who hold similar strange beliefs regarding eggnog.

The world is an amazing place, isn't it?

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  1. Wife's family is the same way. I have three words for that situation: "more for me!"

  2. I actually prefer eggnog like that, without that in it.

    1. I've grown to tolerate the non-alcoholic kind, but it still tastes odd.

  3. We never put alcohol in our eggnog either. I knew others did, though, so I was always cautious to ask before tasting to avoid surprises. Eggnog, to me, is not a drink where you want to find a surprise.

    1. This is one of the benefits of travel and widening one's cultural horizons. You get a chance to step outside your own culture and see what assumptions underlie your world view.


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