Holiday spirit

WILLIAMSTOWN — Crimps in the nation’s supply lines have affected countless businesses and individuals, but foodies (a word defined in this department as anyone who eats) have been particularly hard-hit.

Even just a quick survey of supermarket shelves will reveal gaps of various sizes, and it looks from here as though most people are taking the inconveniences associated with limited or nonexistent availability of many items in stride. Most are making do with as much good humor as they can muster, and it does them credit.

Perhaps that’s why the shadow cast by recent dealings with an online business was especially irksome: Just when you think that “everything is buzzing along nicely,” as the humorist P.G. Wodehouse put it, “you get coshed over the noggin with a stuffed eel skin.”

There was no violence here, to be sure, but the story of the “2PC Copper Crisper Tray” rankles nonetheless.

A tray suited for safe use in ovens equipped with an “air fry” feature was the object of an online search undertaken after the manufacturer of the newly acquired stove declared the unavailability of its own trays specifically designed for use in its stoves.

It was hoped that a suitable substitute could be found, and an online order was eventually placed for what looked to be just what we needed.

It wasn’t. Five weeks after the order went in, a box containing a copper-tinted tray made of what could be called mystery metal and a shallow basket was delivered. The enclosed documents were indecipherable; they disclosed none of the sender’s contact information. Such writing as was legible informed us that the tray and basket were rated for temperatures not to exceed 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Air frying, as we had recently learned, is accomplished at temps that sometimes reach 500 F.

Negotiations with the credit card company may negate the rip-off, but compensation will be long in coming, if it comes at all.

This experience, coupled with an earlier online shopping debacle involving an under-the-counter storage unit that proved to consist of little more than a seemingly random collection of flimsy-looking metal and plastic parts to be assembled according to hilariously imprecise and misleading instructions, led two foodies to a unanimous conclusion: shop locally.

About those onions

Finally, an actual Footnote.

In my Nov. 10 column, I bemoaned my careless postponement of the purchase of Holland onions bottled in water.

The day the column appeared, it was suggested that I’d made a tactical blunder by publicly admitting my oversight and thus alerting other creamed onion addicts to the danger of a shortage and inspiring them to arise and scour the countryside for bottles of Aunt Nellie’s best, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

No evidence of a run on the Holland onion bank has emerged — creamed onion people aren’t given to panic — but they still are a bit difficult to find. Persistence has paid off, though, and a sufficient supply has been obtained and stored in a secure location.

Now I just need to find heavy cream.

Chapter and verse

“Thanksgiving Day” is the title of one of the most familiar songs in America; it also is one of the most frequently misquoted.

The tune evolved from a poem by Massachusetts native Lydia Maria Child, who was born in Medford in 1802. For countless people of all ages, its opening line, “Over the river and through the wood,” lasts a lifetime in memory.

Here, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, are the first three stanzas:

”Over the river and through the wood,

To grandfather’s house we go;

The horse knows the way

To carry the sleigh

Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood —

Oh how the wind does blow!

It stings the toes

And bites the nose

As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,

To have a first-rate play.

Hear the bells ring


Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!”

D. R. “Dusty” Bahlman can be reached by mail c/o The Berkshire Eagle, 75 South Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201 or by email at