It all starts on the 22nd December. From the official opening of the tin of shortbread biscuits (that day is my birthday so it is allowed!), leading to the scattering of the Christmas food ‘accessories’. In the 70’s/80’s it was bowls of Quality Street, now it is Celebrations or Heroes, the must-have box of After Eights and the nut bowl, complete with ancient nutcracker. That bowl always seems to outlast the undecking of the decorations into January and beyond, I wonder why…?!
Festive food holds many childhood memories and traditions. I have always cited Christmas dinner, or even better, Boxing Day dinner, as my chosen last meal. With that in mind I imagine the readers may be expecting something impressive. Not really. Roast turkey, stuffing, gammon and roast beef for the carnivores and all the trimmings (mountains of sprouts) for the vegetarians… apart from the one who doesn’t like sprouts. How on earth is she my daughter?
All fairly traditional for us on Christmas day, apart from the pudding. I’ve never been a fan of the traditional Christmas pud and have rarely eaten it. Some vague memories of eating it at a neighbours house when little and excitedly finding a silver charm in my mouth – that was cool, much better than the pud.
Instead, we have always had Tutti Frutti Christmas pudding. A creation of my Mum’s and one that she has unfortunately admitted recently to have forgotten how to make, blaming her failing, ageing memory. Why oh why have we never written it down?!
Essentially, it’s trifle (ish) but no jelly and far superior. Trifle sponges, tinned mandarins, sherry, dream topping, whipped cream, glace cherries and Cadburys flake all feature, but in what order will need to be recalled this year.
Personally, the best Christmas food ever has to be the bubble and squeak on Boxing Day. I am always amazed when I find out from people that they don’t even know what it is, let alone don’t have it on Boxing Day. I thought it was just a thing that everybody did. The waft of the frying mound of sprouts along with all the other best bits of the previous days left over food summons happy Christmas memories, tinged with the sadness as a child that another Christmas was soon over.
Whatever your take is on festive food, here’s hoping it will be in abundance. But let’s face it – it’s all about the sprouts really, isn’t it?
Photo courtesy of Alexander Mils