Good Food Blog
There's no Christmas like homePosted at 10:30AM, 06 December 2010 by Claire Webb - Writer
On Christmas Day, the men in my household eat pork pie for breakfast. The pie always comes from the same butcher's - as tenderly swaddled as a newborn - and has pride of place in the fridge until it's unwrapped to "ooos" and "ahhhhhs". Last year's was the biggest yet, as big as a kettledrum: crisp crust, glistening jelly and pinkest, peppery pork.
I wrinkle my nose in distaste and reach for the muesli, but there are other delicacies that I wouldn't be without: my mum's cranberry sauce, infinitely superior to saccharine shop-bought; better still is her velvety bread sauce; a dollop of mushy peas. The peas must be neon-green and from a tin or it wouldn't taste like Christmas.
Except that there won't be mushy peas on my plate this year. For the first time, I'm to spend Christmas Day at my other half's and, frankly, I'm apprehensive. Would it be a breach of etiquette to arrive at the in-laws with a jar of mum's tangy cranberry? Is it okay to request bread sauce (must be homemade)? And don't forget the mushy peas, pretty please.
What I'm really worried about are the afters. Perhaps it's because women are outnumbered three to one, but my family prefer savoury to sweet. The Webbs don't do dessert, even at Christmas. Instead we assemble a cheeseboard that would give France a run for its money. All December I dream about it and wake up dribbling: mounds of Stilton, Shropshire Blue, fiery Black Bomber cheddar, Cornish brie, gooey goat's, crumbly goat's, cheese so pungent it makes your eyes water...
The in-laws adore their sugary treats. For them, the turkey is a warm-up act, a necessary but tedious adjunct to the main event: "Would you like cream with that Christmas pud, Yule log, rhubarb crumble, lemon roulade, caramel brownie, brandy butter and ice cream, dear?" But their first love and my nemesis is fruitcake. How I hate those hard little lumps of orange peel, that greasy layer of marzipan lying in wait beneath the icing, sure to stick in your throat.
What to do? Perhaps I should smuggle in supplies and join Santa in a midnight binge. Or else arrive armed with cheesy gifts. I wonder if it's possible to be allergic to fruitcake...
Suggestions would be much appreciated, fellow foodies. Have you ever been a homesick guest, hungry for mum's cooking? What will your Christmas taste like?