Serving up Christmas dinner, QVC-style
It's likely you've eaten something in the last few days that had special meaning. Writer Amy Rogers calls them "food traditions." And she says every family has one. "You know whether it's a country ham that your family eats, or a smoked salmon, which is what my family eats, those cultural holiday traditions and the kind of comfort that those traditions evokes, are very, very meaningful," says Rogers. In my family, it's a recipe passed down from my Czech grandmother for sauerkraut steeped in caraway seeds. Without it the Christmas turkey just doesn't taste isn't the same. So what does it say about American culture that today you can order an entire holiday feast by television? . . . And as I discovered on Christmas Eve, there are people who actually do. "I always have QVC on," says Carolyn Rallos. She's a charter member of QVC. "I've spent so much money, used to be they knew me by name." The only reason they don't know her name when she orders these days is because she's got her QVC account programmed right into her phone so she can buy stuff with the touch of a single button.. . which is exactly how she whipped up Christmas dinner. A QVC announcer raves for several minutes about the set of four side dishes Carolyn picked. "Macaroni and cheese with four different cheeses, that delicious cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, the one everybody's raving about with brown sugar crust. And of course the broccoli cheese casserole. All on easy pay and we can ship it today," says the announcer. "I said, 'I'm gonna order that,'" says Carolyn. "I don't wanna spend all day in the kitchen, so we'll just eat that." And she barely broke a sweat cooking up the meal, right? "Nope, I didn't! That's for sure!" laughs Carolyn. That's my friend Renee - Carolyn's daughter - leans over four bubbling aluminum trays of food. "Think they're done," she asks her mother. "They look done," says Carolyn. "Dig in." All the dishes from QVC were delicious - which was no surprise to Carolyn. And the fact that their Christmas dinner came from QVC was no surprise to anyone who knows the Rallos family. "When I told my best friend from college 'Our dinner came from QVC' she said, 'That is just so perfect for the Rallos family,' because that's just what we do," jokes Renee. .And because Carolyn's a charter member after all. "Yes, I am. They send me birthday cards, anniversary cards!" adds Carolyn. It is absolutely amazing to me," says Alan Rosen - the owner of Junior's Cheesecakes, which made the dessert Carolyn ordered. It was delicious too, but that's not why Rosen is amazed. It's because a few days before we spoke, he'd spent nine minutes on QVC and says he sold four thousand cheesecakes. In nine minutes. "Every time I leave there I am amazed," says Rosen. "You know, I think it just exposes Junior's to people that otherwise probably would never hear of us." QVC declined to give me and any viewer data for this story, but if companies like Junior's can move thousands of orders in a matter of minutes, obviously the Rallos' aren't the only people doing their holiday cooking with a remote control. When I told food writer Amy Rogers about our QVC Christmas feast, she laughed hysterically. . . then got philosophical: "I think it's a sign of the times with our on-demand lifestyle," says Amy. "We get movies on demand, we get tv on demand. . . I'm not yet intrigued enough by the idea of my dinner coming in a box from a warehouse someplace. But who knows? It might be the next great thing." Now Amy likes to cook, so it's unlikely she'll turn QVC next holiday. My mother is a different story. She's an excellent cook. But every holiday, she grumbles about toiling all day in the kitchen only to have us wolf down her hard work in less than 20 minutes. And then it's back to the kitchen for a night of scrubbing pans. Christmas dinner clean up at the Rallos home took under two minutes. And since nobody was worn out from cooking or cleaning, we had plenty of energy left to sit up late playing games and admiring the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree Carolyn bought from QVC.