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a m u s e BOUCHE Tightening our belts, are we? It’s officially a trend: People are cutting way back, whether they need to or not, in the face of this year’s holiday season and blowing the savings on some seriously retarded (in the technical sense) retail pricing schemes. The first thing to go in a closely monitored budget, I believe, are the niceties — specifically, restaurant lunches. I see them brown-bagging in downtown Winston-Salem and Greensboro and my restaurant friends who rely on lunch trade tell me the crowds are not what they could be. I myself was stocking up my office larder when I discovered that Lipton Cup-A-Soup, that packaged, dehydrated, after-school buddy of the 1980s latchkey kid, is not available at area supermarkets. I suspect that Cup-A-Soup’s market presence was obliterated by the Ramen noodle cartel some time in the mid-’90s, but I remember the split pea was particularly good. Oh, how I carry on…. And, in an awkward segue, the Triad culinary scene carries on as well. If you have a sensible outdoor jacket, a warm hat and some decent gloves, you are gonna be lovin’ it this weekend. Friday evening, Greensboro’s EarthFare kicks off the Triad Health Watch’s Winter Walk for Aids at 6 p.m. with “hearty wines and beers” and light hors d’oeuvres for a $5 donation. Saturday the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market holds Deck the Halls Day which gets rolling in the cold, dim hours at 6 a.m. and runs until noon. The website promises gifts, decorations, baked items, an apple pancake breakfast and free hot cider. And two weekend-long events help us bridge the gap. The Piedmont Triad Farmers Market holds its Winter Craft Fair Saturday and Sunday with hundreds of unique gift ideas from area craftsmen and artisans. And the Grove Winery holds its annual Holiday Open House, also Saturday and Sunday. The proprietors promise three things: There will be music, there will be free mulled wine and there will be Mark Wilson’s famous holiday horseradish cheese ball. Also: tons of local wine, extremely appropriate for giftgiving. A suggestion: The Grove strawberry wine tastes like summer in a bottle. On Monday, Dec. 8, head to BestHealth in Winston-Salem for a discussion entitled Organic Produce and Farming: Explore the Possibilities at 6 p.m. Registered Dietitian Dayle Fitzgibbons shares the knowledge about community-sustained agriculture. And remember that the host of NPR’s “The Splendid Table,” Lynne Rossetto Kaspar, will attend WFDD’s holiday mixer on Dec. 12. Call 336.758.8850 to purchase tickets. Oh, and about that Lipton Cup-A-Soup thing: It seems they still make it, at least according to the intertubes. The line, however, has been narrowed down to three flavors” chicken noodle, cream of chicken and tomato with croutons.