It’s Christmas Eve. I’m sitting in front of the television watching the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College, and I am drinking a large G&T, and I must confess my shirt is daintily splattered with food stains, having spent bloody hours cooking like a woman demented, muttering to myself as I did so ‘there’s only two of us. Two. We could spend the day in our pants eating crisps and chocolate and swigging ginger wine straight from the bottle. In fact, that was the plan, wasn’t it? Why am I marinating this cabbage?‘ .
You see, Christmas Spirit reared up out of nowhere at all and bit me on the arse yesterday. Inconvenient, as I was sitting at my desk pretending to concentrate at the time. The only thing to do was make a list. I made two lists. I made a list of things to buy and a list of things to do. And I planned menus.
Therefore, this morning, I dragged H out of the house before dawn to get to the supermarket the very second it opened, so I could actually buy the things on the list before the crazy-mad hoardes came thundering through as if shopping for the apocalypse. It was a good plan. We scored the last jar of goose-fat in the entire shop, and that by spotting it lurking in the vegetable aisle where someone had clearly dumped it after a bickerment with the spouse about healthy eating. Ha ha! H took the heavy things home and then went on to work, and I finished buying all the random fancy crap infesting my list like glitter in a pile carpet, and then I went home and put the radio on (I particularly like ghost stories at Christmas, but H hates them, so, you know, Derek Jacobi reading MR James, May happy now) and found the big saucepan and the rubber spatula.
Food is going something like this:
Tonight, courtesy of H, who is nobly following my vague instructions (‘how much garlic, May?’ ‘Oh, some.’), we are having the traditional Italian Christmas dish of Cotechino with lentils. Only, there’s only two of us, so we’re using fennel-scented sausages instead. (In Italy, we used Zampone, which is basically a cotechino sausage stuffed into the boned trotter of a healthy young pig. It was traditional. It was festive. It was greasy).
Tomorrow morning we will be having panettone and Bucks Fizz, and I will be individually toasting, with best and most pertinent wishes each time, all my bloggy and internetty friends. So I could be quite drunk by midday.
For Christmas Lunch/High Tea/Dinner/Midnight Feast, depending on how drunk I mean by drunk, we are having smoked salmon on Russian rye-bread. I nearly made blinis, but lost the will to live when I re-checked the recipe. Then we are having roast fillet of beef, with roast potatoes and parsnips, and red cabbage braised in a vague approximation of the way H’s father makes it (this needs making at least 24 hours in advance and involves apples, two kinds of bacon, red wine, and pretty much every spice I could find in the cupboard. It’ll either be fabulous or completely meh). For pudding, either a winter trifle (figs and prunes stewed (soused? Does soused sound better?) in red wine with star anise and cinnamon, covered in a thick custard/creme anglais flavoured with ginger wine, lemon and cinnamon) or, if the universe is feeling snitty, stewed fruit floating about in a kind of sweet egg soup.
I try to consider the matter of Christmas Day suppers and bits of my brain explode. But there’s always cheese on toast.
Boxing Day I am making fresh egg pasta from scratch, and serving it with a sauce of creme fraiche, roquefort and fresh herbs. You know, lying food. Appears to be nice and light and dainty after the starch extravaganza of the day before, is actually about nine-hundred calories a mouthful. Heh heh.
And after that, I’ll have to think of something to do with all the leftover potatoes, as we appear to have bought enough to feed a clan gathering of sixteen. Mashed? Fried? Mashed then fried? With red wine and cinnamon, like everything else we’ll’ve eaten so far?
Meanwhile, on with the boozing. May you all be reading this with something comforting and scrumptious in a wine-glass/tumbler/mug [delete as appropriate] by your hand, and at least one loved one in snuggling reach.