Christmas is the time of year to throw common sense out of the kitchen and give yourself over to indulging for a bit. It’s cold, you need to eat more and also you’re cocooned with your family in the snugness of home for the holidays and won’t see anyone who might judge you for pigging out… just a little bit.
One of my family’s favourite traditions is the Gingerbread House. You’d think we’d been attempting to build the Great Pyramids of Giza or something, considering the kitchen looks like a building site once we’re done with it.
Admittedly we do normally cheat and get a kit, rather than going to the lengths of making our own gingerbread, but having the gingerbread ready-made does not make the task any easier. For a start, icing is the worst possible glue ever, why anyone thinks it’s capable of holding a house together is a mystery. We end up slathering the gingerbread together and then an unlucky member of the family is left holding it tenaciously in place for a few hours. Once it’s structurally sound you can have fun decorating it. Of course, once that’s done, we have the awkward hurdle of getting it to Grandma’s, which is the equivalent of taking a wrecking ball to the thing and starting all over again.
The Gingerbread House is hardly the only dessert we’ve ever attempted at home for Christmas though. There’s always a Christmas pudding (set on fire, naturally), mince pies (classic), normally some cheeky chocolate for yours truly (because really, who wants a fruit pudding at Christmas?) and then if anyone is still sitting upright and hasn’t dived for a sofa and Christmas TV, there’s coffee. An honourable dessert mention does go to the one-time Vienetta (looked lovely but had frozen solid, clearly Walls has the edge on us for not delivering tooth-shattering desserts).
Once Christmas Eve rolls around I have to start running the gauntlet in the kitchen to get a drink from the fridge. While Mum helms the actual dinner, Dad also tends to lend a hand at prep in the kitchen. Thanks to the wonderful design of our kitchen, the entire nerve centre of pots, pans, plates, glasses, cupboards and the fridge are concentrated in the same corner of the room. This causes havoc when my sister’s added to the mix because the four of us are competing to access the same point of the kitchen. It’s a hazardous business indeed and I tend to avoid trying to cook altogether, instead resorting to playing delivery boy when food’s done on the big day and taking it through to the dining room.Christmas isn’t completely about tradition though. There’s a world of innovation, especially when it comes to turkey left-overs. Turkey’s a lot less fatty than chicken and is a wonderful basis for a myriad of meals between Christmas and New Year. My Dad, as the resident gastronomy guy of the family, tends to supervise where our surplus turkey is allocated. Some goes to turkey, bacon and avocado sandwiches, some to a blazingly hot Thai or Indian curry, depending on what paste he fancies knocking up, and then if there’s any left over, I get some and normally whack it on a homemade pizza with sweetcorn – delish!