I think we've all survived Christmas. Our girls, Dau.I and Dau.II, who left home 4.5 and 2.5 years ago and promptly enrolled in the University of Life have been working in the catering trade. They came home for several days over the holiday and owned Christmas dinner. All I had to do was slave away at the kitchen sink acting the plongeur for a mountain of used delph, saucepans, chopping boards, glassware and cutlery. "Do you have a dish-washer?", people ask; "Yes, me", I reply. "Don't you realise that dish-washing machines are mega-efficient in their use of water?", they continue; "Piss off", I reply. It's a policy decision we've taken: washing the dishes by hand makes you aware of their use, helps you reflect on the process of cooking and eating food. It's the opposite of the take-away, throw-away society we might embrace if we lived close enough to an Indian restaurant to make ready-meals convenient.
I missed the starter of spinach-and-adds salad because I was on the phone to my pal P in Boston. I was on the phone because my service supplier Vodafone offered free national and international calls on Der Tag. I was talking to P because we go back a long way and her father is dying and I thought she could do with a boost. With 4 at the table, we had a meat end and a meat free end: two of us believing that chicken and ham was both traditional and necessary. The lads at the other end of the table had some rather fine aubergine roulades dressed as you might do cannelloni; they were delicious. I'm with Thomas Jefferson on this, a man who ate meat only “as a condiment to the vegetables which constitute my principal diet.” For me the main point of Sunday/Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner is the roast potatoes; if these are done right then the whole meal falls into place. Yesterday, they were done right. The girls could do this long before they left home, but formal training can give even the most mundane dish a bit of a lift. There was gravy, of course; the traditional Brussels-sprouts were roasted with chestnuts and pancetta; there was a dark red dish of red cabbage and lemon; a taster of cranberry sauce; and final dish of roasted carrots-and-parsnips. All delicious on their own, a feast together.
After a gasp and a gap of an hour and a Kobayashi shake to settle things, we came back for self-assembled 'trifle' of Pandoro slices with autumn berries, custard and cream. Let us be thankful for a fully-functional gall-bladder to process the tsunami of saturated fat. Really looking forward to hang-sangers today: it's like the dinner yesterday was just a prelude. But first I'll have another go at some dish-washing.