Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kick off (not of the football sort)

Thanksgiving week was a wonderful kick-off to the holiday season. I was incredibly fortunate in that I celebrated Thanksgiving three separate times with three different groups of friends (both Latvian and American). Additionally, I helped a friend celebrate Hanukkah twice during the week. All of these parties and celebrations were truly a fantastic way to begin what is known in the U.S. as “the holiday season.” 

Generally all of these holidays and celebrations are very food-oriented. I am not much of a cook, but I do enjoy baking, thus I happily contributed pumpkin bread, brownies, almond spice cookies and pumpkin spice cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Because I gave up eating gluten almost two years ago, I've been missing the traditional Latvian Christmas cookies, piparkukas, that I used to make with gusto every December. And that might be why I gravitated towards baking goodies with lots of spice in them. The almond spice cookies had a taste very similar to piparkukas, thanks to my decision to add cardamom and extra ginger.

In the month of December I look forward to flying to Michigan for Christmas to visit family, as well as to a couple of Christmas-themed events here in the DMV. However, there is another event that looms large on my calendar: the annual AFI European Union FilmShowcase. In previous years this great series took place in November, but for whatever reason it is scheduled for December 5 - 22 this year. I will certainly make time to see a number of films, including the Estonian one. The EU Film Showcase is just another reason to love living in the DC area; other than the opportunity to see so many European movies, occasionally directors or actors from the movies are present at the screenings and answer questions after the movies. Over the years I have seen a wide variety of movies, ranging from wonderfully comedic to darkly depressing and everything in between. Many of the films are never shown in regular theatres here in the United States, while others premier at the showcase. Last year, for example, I saw both Quartet and Barbara, which were shown in arthouse theatres several months later. I can recommend both; the German film Barbara in particular was excellent – similar in theme and style to the popular The Lives of Others (which was awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006). If you are at all interested in life in Eastern Germany during Communist times, I highly recommend watching both Barbara and The Lives of Others.

1 comment:

  1. May the time pass quickly until touchdown (also not of the football sort) in Michigan for the holidays! The film showcase sounds very cool. While living in France our little town hosted a short film festival, and I was surprised at the number of entries from the Baltics - the Estonian film ought to be good.


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