CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Enjoy Culinary Gilded Age and stocking stuffer ideas

Published 6:40 am Monday, November 27, 2023

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Mark Twain coined the phrase “The Gilded Age” and encouraged Americans to copy his list of foods he was homesick for when he traveled Europe.

Hot biscuits, frog, fried chicken and hot buckwheat cakes made that list. As railways allowed culinary access, Americans became acquainted with pottage puree, spinach a la creme blueberry cake.

I’m getting this from the elegant “The Gilded Age Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from America’s Golden Era.”

Becky Libourel Diamond reports patrons would have expected oysters on their menus. By chance, I recently heard that Arthur Stilwell, Port Arthur’s rail man, came up with a car to get oysters to diners in a fresher state. So fried, scalloped stewed and half shell oysters noted in this book would be perfect for Southeast Texas.

It was another time, where monkey’s were the guest of honor and lobsters were elevated from fertilizer and inmate food.

Holiday menus included steamed halibut with egg sauce and peas served in turnip cups. If you are concerned your crystal, silver and linens do not meet these gilded standards, the author suggests that plates, etc., gleaned from second-hand stores will make a festive arrangement. Here, here. A toast.

Here are some other gift-worthy items to slip into a stocking or something bigger:

Don’t tease vegans when you know they are enjoying Jenkins Jellies little jars of Sweet Heat with varieties such as Hell Fire, Fiery Figs and Passion Fire. Pepper jellies with notes including smoky caramel are a favorite fusion of mine. These come packaged in little jars, so fill your stocking first and share with your gluten-free foodies as well. A backyard of pepper vines and fruit trees inspired this California treat. Read more at

I’d been enjoying “scrub-dub,” a loofah alternative, in Glacier Blue for some time without fully enjoying its full superpowers. The little nubbins that clean and exfoliate your skin in the shower are on a palm-sized palate of not silicone, but Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). That’s a step up and keeps the nasty mildew away from this tool. Flip it over and the taller nubs massage your scalp for additional body benefits. Pump your body wash on it, flex, squeeze and feel like you’re getting the salon treatment at

Cozy night in? December is made for it, and you won’t believe what Journee Collection has done with slippers. Still fuzzy, these have style and the feel that you wouldn’t mind a bit if more people saw them wearing these colorful, comfy trends. Whisp has sturdy outer soles, and the profile says they’re designed for if you pop out on errands on a “self-care” day.

My rule is that one must own a pair of leopard print slippers and Dream is one fun flip-floppy option. I can’t figure why one style is named Sabine, but if you’re a Sabine Lake fan, they’re a natural. Your December should have on-the-town nights too, and there are some showstoppers in those categories. Peeks at

Darragh Doiron is a Southeast Texas foodie who has already addressed most of her holiday cards. Email her at