Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Advent Calendar - Holiday Foods

In New Zealand it's the height of summer at Christmastime. A barbecue is more appropriate than slaving away in the kitchen! As my parents are English, our Christmas was always more traditional than most families here though - I think we were the only ones I knew who had a formal sit-down meal at a beautifully laid out table. Our main Christmas meal came at lunchtime, as it does in England. Roast chicken, ham, roast veges, and then the most important course, pudding! There are three crucial components here. The first was the mince pie - my mother makes the most glorious mince pies, although I understand now that she considers this to be the Most Annoying Task of the season. They're worth it though, honestly! The second is the trifle, layers of sponge and fruit set with red jelly and topped off with custard. And lastly a Kiwi classic, the pavlova topped with fresh strawberries. I've never had a Christmas without one (well, except Christmas 2007 when I was in the UK, but that's a story for the 13th December according to our geneabloggers Advent Calendar schedule).

As our Christmas lunch was based on the traditional English one, the holiday foods my parents remember enjoying are similar (apart from the pavlova, of course). Turkey, sausage rolls and the usual hot roast staples, mince pies, trifle, Christmas cake, dates, nuts and sweets. Mum reports they didn't have anything for tea in the evening as they would all still be full, while Dad was fond of a turkey sandwich come teatime (the Coles family secret recipe is turkey, stuffing and tomato sauce). Dad reports roasting marshmallows on a fork over an open fire, and the tragedy of post-WWII-rationing affecting the sweet supply.

On the Wing One Place Study website I have a profile of Robert May, one of the first English chefs. Check out his Christmas bill of fare from 1660! Swan pye has fallen quite out of favour in the intervening centuries so you may need to make a few alterations to the menu....


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