Dish of the Day: Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year
Christmas undoubtedly starts way too early these days. You see people pulling the trigger on the carols and Christmas jumpers in November with shops decorated in October and adverts in August. But when the temperature finally drops, the shopping is done, I can’t help feeling a deep love for Christmas. Ever since I was a kid, it has been a phenomenal time.
Mid-December Sunday afternoons, sat at home watching movies while the chickens were roasting – they were times of bliss. As Christmas crept closer, the anticipation for Christmas eve baking began. At my house, we’d spend days preparing mince pies, roast hams, cakes, biscuits, and chutneys so we could spend the next few days alternating between eating ourselves sick and sleeping. Which was, quite frankly, like heaven.
Obviously nowadays it’s a bit different, what with being a chef and all, there’s the business of Christmas parties to contend with, menus having been written back in July, then booking requests for New Year’s Eve and… Valentine’s? Oh dear, it can all be a bit overwhelming at times, but those memories of watching The Goonies or Uncle Buck, drinking Cream Soda and eating Turkey sandwiches calm the storm inside my mind.
Yes, it’s a month of stress but the thought of waking up at 9ish, starting off with a Bucks Fizz and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, turning on the TV and doing the calls to friends and family, opening presents with loved ones, and then preparing a starter of game terrine or a smoked mackerel pate – well, it is sustaining.
Cheese and port? Of course! Nap time, then later some roasted ham and mustard sandwiches, sides of potato salad & coleslaw. Not forgetting cracking chestnuts and over indulging on Brazil nuts dipped in chocolate. A cheeky whiskey, well, the digestion needs a hand after that lot.
It goes on for days, nobody questioning your gluttonous ways, allowing your eat-sleep routine to go into the only time of the year where dates are more memorable than days – not a soul knows whether the 27th is a Monday or a Thursday.
As for me this year? Unfortunately the above is all a massive fantasy that I can’t see becoming a reality; I’ll be at work cooking for those who choose to eat out on Christmas day.
But cry for me not. It is actually quite a fun day to work. Spirits are high in the kitchen. Guests are more relaxed and I actually quite enjoy returning home late, opening up a decent bottle of wine and cooking a special steak.
Sometimes, I think, most of the pleasure of Christmas is in the imagining.Christmas dinner
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