The 12 Days of Christmas
Romance and Food
My wonderful guest today is Louise Reynolds, who is not only an amazing writer (her first book, Her Italian Aristocrat is out now with Destiny Romance and is a fantastic summer read) but a very lovely friend of mine.
Louise and her family are going out for their Christmas feast this year. I have to say that my family have done that in the past, especially when we'd relocated and didn't have a lot of family and friends around -- going out to a restaurant seemed more cheery than sitting by ourselves. And it was! I have some very fond memories of Christmases spent in restaurants. And one of the best bits? No dishes to be done when you finish!
For the first time, this Christmas we’re having Christmas dinner at a restaurant. I would be feeling really bad about this but as we’re going to Sydney and taking my mother, a restaurant meal is the only possible choice.
But it’s made me think of the Christmases of my childhood. My family circle has dwindled for a number of reasons and of late, come Christmas time, I find myself filling the empty spaces with the production of elaborate meals garnered from the latest cookbooks and magazines.
It wasn’t always like this.
My mother didn’t spend days flicking through food-porn to find the very latest in fashionable food to put before her family and guests. Early in December, a turkey and ham were ordered and a pudding and cake were made. On Christmas morning a kitchen table press-gang peeled mountains of potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato and parsnip. Giblet stock and sage, onion and bacon stuffing were prepared. The ham had been ceremoniously cut days before, my mother using a lethal carving knife with the precision of a surgeon, peeling back the burnished flap of skin, assessing the colour and thickness of the layer of fat with the eye of a connoisseur and then taking the first slice. The ham was invariably pronounced either a disaster or the best ever.
The seriously alcoholic brandy sauce was also eagerly anticipated. Not for the faint hearted, this concoction of cream, brandy and golden syrup was so utterly delicious that I have been known to request ‘just a bowl of sauce, please’.
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My mother laboured over a meal that, if not set in stone, left very little room for negotiation. Not by a single oyster, sweet potato or glacé fruit did her children allow the meal to deviate from the way it was every year. The plum pudding was always turned onto the royal blue and gold Houses of Parliament serving plate and the silver dish that now sits on my dining table always held nuts ready to be cracked. Food, the notion of plenty, was the table decoration, with cut glass bowls of chocolates, nuts in the shell, cherries and glace fruit placed down the centre of the table.
But what I’ll be missing most is the fun. There won’t be any of that gorgeous silliness involved in our Christmas lunch in a 5 star hotel overlooking Sydney Harbour. No one will wear a pair of hinged cherries as earrings. I doubt that we’ll sport cheap paper crowns that slip tipsily to the side as the afternoon wears on. There may be bonbons but they’ll be civilised affairs. And everyone will be wearing shoes. No one will walk barefoot through a tangle of discarded wrapping paper on the living room floor until one of us inevitably steps on an evilly sharp little piece of plastic.
But it will be Christmas. We’ll be with the people we love. And that’s enough.Merry Christmas, Emmie, and to all your readers. May the year ahead be filled with blessings of every kind.
Thank you, Louise! And here's my usual reminder about Random Acts. As part of TDoCFaRBE I'm encouraging you all to undertake a Random Act of Kindness throughout the festive season.
My tea-drinking peccadilloes are well-documented on the internet. The latest hint from Random Acts is written for coffee lovers, but it applies to tea lovers too! Why not spot someone their daily cuppa (whether camomile or caffeine!) and make their morning? Or you can simply send Random Acts a donation and wear a smile all day.