One of my favourite things about Christmas are the various special foods that get brought out just for Christmas that you tend not to eat through the year.
I also enjoy pretty much knowing what I’m going to eat well in advance of Christmas because there’s little traditions that I’ve grown up with. (I’m about to give away some family secrets)
Christmas Eve: Slow roast ham – glazed, pricked with cloves served with red cabbage and sultanas cooked in cider with baked potatoes. Usually I’ll have a gentle fight with my sister over who’ll prepare the brandy butter for the Christmas Pudding the next day after “The Year When My Sister Had A Cold And Couldn’t Taste How Much Brandy Was In The Brandy Butter”. (My stomach did a little rumble in anticipation as I typed that)
Christmas Day: Start the day with a glass of bucks fizz and a ham sandwich (usually one half of the sandwich with good English mustard and the other half with a good wholegrain mustard, I think my Mum buys these in specially for me).
Starter: Prawn Cocktail (served without irony)
Main: Roast Turkey, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, Brussels Sprouts (with roasted chestnuts), peas, carrots, bread sauce and cranberry sauce. I’m not a huge gravy fan, just a little on the roast potatoes and turkey. And God help us all if things mix on my plate.
Pudding: Usually there’s a minimum of five adults and assorted children for dinner so there’s usually a wide range of puddings to snack on. Mince pies, Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake, jam tarts, ice cream, cream, brandy butter, brandy sauce… There’s also usually a selection of good cheeses and biscuits. I love that moment on Christmas Day, picking up the cheese board and moving it within arms reach and knowing I can eat my way through it. I’d probably be happy if there were just a nice chunk of Stilton and some Hovis biscuits but there isn’t, there’s some cheddar that’s so mature and sharp that it makes you wince as you eat it, brie that’s been resting, a gesture to healthy eating by having a few grapes on the side.
I’m trying to decide on a suitable metaphor regarding food at Christmas. Is it the mortar that holds a family Christmas together? But then there are other more important things that would be the mortar that holds a family Christmas together- like love, time together etc. Maybe the food is one of the key social spaces at Christmas in the same way that the traditional telly shows are the key social wallpapers onto which we project ourselves. Perhaps I’m over thinking and the food should just be the food?