December 26, 1996

There's a wonderful baking-powder biscuit cook in East Hampton. She says there's nothing to it, but I think otherwise. Following a good recipe doesn't really do it.

I met real baking-powder biscuits a long time ago as a counselor at a summer camp for disadvantaged children. The cooks were from the South, and Sunday dinner always was fried chicken and biscuits. You mourned the day you couldn't be there because you had taken a group of kids on an overnight trip.

It's not so odd that I am thinking of biscuits instead of sugarplums this week. Every holiday worth celebrating has food at its center, whether it's Christmas delights (and I don't mean fruitcake), Thanksgiving turkey, or a Passover seder. Olde English prints of Christmas always feature a steaming pudding. Those who observe Yom Kippur, a solemn day of fasting, begin and end it with a nice meal.

An old friend once described, more as a fond than a sad memory, the oranges and hard candies that could be found under his pillow on Christmas in an orphanage.

Food, food, glorious food. We have so much and we celebrate by making it as fine as we can.

More than a hundred guests at a dinner and caroling party Saturday night each were offered a take-home bag of homemade cookies. We took two and they were all gone before lunch the next day.

Nestled (pun intended) away at home until Christmas morning are candies of several sorts. My daughter took an extra day off from her job to have time to bake. Family conversation during the last few weeks has been about oysters, lobster, goose, persimmon pudding, and the like.

And even after all that I can't wait to savor the biscuits at The Star's holiday party tomorrow. My wish is in vain, I suppose, that people everywhere, especially children, could break better bread - and have enough of it to celebrate - from this day forward.