10 December 2007

Pies, tarts and Synchroblog

Sweet Violet, an American living in South Africa, writes about the difference between American and South African Christmas customs: A View from the Other Side: Christmas on the Other Side

One of the things that comes up in the discussion is the difference between pies and tarts. To me the distinction is that a pie always has a pastry crust on top, whereas a tart does not. In America, it seems, the difference has something to do with size. So we have milk tart (which is a kind of custard tart, or a jam tart, and quiche is a variety of tart. But mince pies are pies, even if made of fruit mince rather than flesh meat.

South Africans do sometimes confuse them, though, especially those for whom English is a second language. A lawyer friend once told me of a judge, who, in sentencing a recently-convicted accused, said "He had a finger in every tart in town."

Sweet Violet also mentioned turkeys, which she said were not part of South African Christmas celebrations. My memory is different, but perhaps because I grew up on a smallholding in Sunningdale, just outside Johannesburg, where we had chickens, ducks and turkeys. We always had turkey for Christmas (and sometimes sold them to our customers for that purpose).

In recent years years, however, turkeys have been more difficult to find. I attribute this to the Rainbow chicken boom of the 1960s, when traditional poultry farms were replaced by battery hens, initially near Camperdown, Natal, but later all over the country. Turkeys didn't fit the pattern, and demand was seasonal, so it was probably uneconomic to raise turkeys.

One could still get turkeys in supermarkets, though, but they were imported from America. I had visions of all the supermarkets in the USA bundling up their unsold turkeys on the day after Thanksgiving, and airfreighting them to Pick 'n Pay in time for Christmas. They came wrapped in plastic, and the label proclaimed them as "self-basting", which made me wonder what kind of sinister genetic modifications had been carried out on them!

Talking about Christmas reminds me of this month's Synchroblog, with the theme Redeeming the season. As Phil Wyman writes:
Redeeming the Season is the Topic for this month's SynchroBlog. Now there are a variety of seasons being celebrated at the end of each year from Christmas to Hannukah to Eid al-Adha and Muharram, from the Winter Solstice to Kwanzaa and Yule. Some people celebrate none of these seasonal holydays, and do so for good reason. Below is a variety of responses to the subject of redeeming the season. From the discipline of simplicity, to uninhibited celebration, to refraining from celebrating, to celebrating another's holyday for the purpose of identificational evangelism the subject is explored.

This is a kind of anniversary , the first one having been held in December 2006, at the instigation of Phil Wyman and John Smulo, when a group of us blogged on the theme of "Syncretism.

This month's synchroblog is on the theme of "Redeeming the season", and here are the links to the posts:

Swords into Plowshares at Sonja Andrew's Calacirian
Fanning the Flickering Flame of Advent at Paul Walker's Out of the Cocoon
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
Eager Longing at Elizaphanian
The Battle Rages at Bryan Riley's Charis Shalom
Secularizing Christmas at JohnSmulo.com
There's Something About Mary at Hello Said Jenelle
Geocentric Versus Anthropocentric Holydays at Phil Wyman's Square No More
Celebrating Christmas in a Pluralistic Society at Matt Stone's Journeys in Between
The Ghost of Christmas Past at Erin Word's Decompressing Faith
Redeeming the season -- season of redemption by Steve Hayes
Remembering the Incarnation at Alan Knox' The Assembling of the Church
A Biblical Response to a Secular Christmas by Glenn Ansley's Bad Theology
Happy Life Day at The Agent B Files
What's So Bad About Christmas? at Julie Clawson's One Hand Clapping


Tauratinswe said...

I think the judge you referred to was not thinking of a pie like dish but another kind of "tart," also a "dish" but of the free favoured female variety. ;-) Words and expressions like this drive English learners mad.

Jay said...

Hey, thanks for sharing. I love to learn about how other people live.

Steve Hayes said...


What the judge meant to say was that he had a finger in every pie in town. "Tart" gave the wrong message entirely, it was the wrong metaphor.

The same judge also said of someone else that "he travelled right around the bulb".

Sally said...

sinister mutant turkeys- I like it- all of this goes to show that the trimmings and traditions can be stripped away- what we are left with is what is important!

Tauratinswe said...

The judge may have meant "pie" but the pun on "tart" makes his comment just too funny (not to mention quite risque).


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