The 9 best things about Christmas
I’m aware that nine is not ten, but I just couldn’t find anything else that was worthy of the list. These are things that make Christmas for me. There are plenty of other things which are a welcome addition to the festive season, but are consumed throughout the year, rendering them invalid for such a partisan take on yule-time opulence.
I hold no truck with goose, duck nor beef for The Festive Lunch, it has to be turkey. For those who deem turkey to be too common for Christmas, you’re right, it is common – to everyone. That’s the point, Christmas is the one time of the year that should be above exclusivity, if you have anything else on your table this yule-time, it is you who are unfortunate, and we shall look down our nose at you and your supposedly superior bird.
We all know the usual excuses for not having turkey, ‘it’s not actually traditional, and was introduced by the Victorians’, well so was the industrial revolution and I don’t see you swapping your car to nip to the shops in a horse and cart! ‘It’s too dry’, that’s what gravy is for. ‘You always have left-overs’, don’t buy such a big bird then – what are you? An idiot?
As treasure troves go, this is the ultimate festive pinnacle – packed full of gold, silver…and other coloured wrappers. Like all things there are certain rules which embellish the experience, upon removing the seal, remove the lid and plunge your face into the jewel-like treats, stopping about 3cm short of impact. Breathe deeply. Forget cloves, cinnamon and allspice – that is the scent of Christmas.
Here comes the tricky bit – making sure you get your favourites, before all that’s left are coffee creams and brazil nut toffees. I advocate several days of private picking, to ensure you achieve the required quota of creams and caramels, before introducing them to a wider, less discerning audience.
Sausages wrapped in bacon
Certain things stand alone, triumphant in the arsenal of foodstuffs, unable to be bettered in their own right. Occasionally two of these things come together in an exponential marriage of loveliness. Wrapping sausages in streaky bacon is an example of this, on their own these triumphs are overpowering and salty, but tucked under a slice of turkey breast they are a forkful of taste balance. Even cheap sausage and cheap bacon, seem to find a place where their dubious origins are forgiven – that’s the wonder of Christmas.
Harveys Bristol Cream
Christmas is the time for the food snob to rear its ugly head, watch seemingly normal-looking people transmogrify into utter bores at the sight of the ’wrong’ supermarket branding. For fun, watch them become incandescent when you uncork the distinctive blue bottled, Harveys Bristol Cream. I love Harveys Bristol Cream and am unashamed in my admiration. Anything that can engage people in the wonders of Sherry, is a good thing. Sherry has a wealth of history and tradition to rival Champagne and whilst its fizzy counterpart has become a status symbol, Sherry has lagged behind in the celebratory stakes. HBC is a blend of 4 different sherries and has a history going back well over 100 years. Plus it goes really well with chocolates.
Yes, they are available before and after Christmas, no, they are not festive, but they are the one accompaniment that makes a Christmas dinner. At their best after the first frosts, these sweet tubers are best roasted to bring out their natural sweetness. Cover them in honey, or maple syrup if you want, but such gilding of this humble lily is, frankly, unnecessary.
There is twice a year where eating chocolate for breakfast should be enshrined in law – Easter and Christmas. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The perennial stocking filler, of foil covered chocolate coins, is the ideal vehicle for this mandatory indulgence. Peel back the foil and marvel at the imprint of the generic coin on that lustered chocolate disc, care not for the lack of quality, just enjoy the moment. Chocolate for breakfast!!!
There is already a page on this site that testifies to my love of this strangely enigmatic patisserie item. I’m still not 100% clear of it’s origins and whilst its producers and stockists may wax and wane, there remains something magical about this chocolate topped madeira cake, despite the marzipan fruits. No, I’m not sure about the name, and have no idea where it came from, but through constant testing and research I’ll be buggered if I don’t find out eventually!
Where as any other time of the year, ham comes packed, pre-sliced in plastic, over the advent period it takes on a more respectful role. Finally afforded the time and effort that such food really should have. Cured, soaked, baked and sliced, it is the perfect salty antidote to overdosing on the chocolates.
Due to the wonders of mother nature and man’s ingenuity in food preservation, pickled onions are at there finest over Christmas. Don’t buy the acrid little bombs that are mass produced all year round, get your hands on some homemade examples and savour that rollercoaster of taste sensations. They are an integral part of My Favourite Meal Of The Year™ – Cold turkey, homemade chips and pickled onions, held together with that umami glue, Heinz Ketchup.