'Hidden History with Brian Bullock' takes a look at Virginia's connection to eggnog in this holiday special!
Food traditions run deep during the holiday season. Ask any family and they’re likely to have recipes passed down through generations connecting them to an ancestral history.
One such winter holiday tradition is eggnog. VPM’s Hidden History with Brian Bullock takes a look at Virginia’s connection to modern-day eggnog in a timely holiday special.
Eggnog gets its start in Western Europe as far back as the 13th century. Wine and ale mixed with milk and eggs created winter grogs and party punches with the added bonus of preserving easily spoiled dairy in an age without refrigeration.
When European colonists came to the Americas, they brought with them many traditions from home — especially family recipes. Wine and brandy imported from Europe was taxed heavily, and so colonists adapted their traditional eggnog to include rum, a more accessible and cost-effective substitute. George Washington’s eggnog recipe used bourbon, another local and inexpensive alternative to brandy.
Erik Bonkovsky, a pastor from Richmond, prepares his own special version using egg yolks, cream, bourbon, rum and cognac. After mixing a batch, he ages the eggnog in glass bottles to develop the flavor and preserve the ingredients.
“Because of the high alcohol content in this [eggnog], any concern about bacteria from the eggs is all taken care of by the alcohol after a week or two,” said Bonkovsky.
Cheryl Brooks-Brown, a retired Federal employee from Prince George, developed a creative way of using eggnog in her holiday baking – by adding it to her sweet potato pie.
“One day when I was making my pie, I just said, ‘You know what? I bet you, I could use eggnog to replace the cream and the nutmeg and the sugar,’” said Brooks-Brown.
A bit of rum in the eggnog gives the pie a deeper flavor.
Watch Brian Bullock taste-test Brooks-Brown’s eggnog sweet potato pie and learn more about the history of eggnog by viewing the Hidden History with Brian Bullock Holiday Special on VPM’s YouTube channel.
Check out the Hidden History website to catch up on past episodes. And stay tuned for more Hidden History in 2023!