Let Me Feed You Christmas 2012

December 26, 2012

You may have gleamed from last year’s Christmas post that I love the Yuletide time of year. The gold and silver and red, the shiny baubles, the busy shopping centres and the scent of pine wafting through the house; it’s like being a kid all over again.

I was especially looking forward to Christmas this year because it’s the first time since 2009 that the whole family has been together. Last year was particularly lonely with most people away overseas or interstate, so I was jumping with excitement at the idea of having everyone together again. To add to the excitement, there’s been a new addition to the family this year with baby A, my new cousin, who commanded everyone’s attention the entire day. Throw in some over-zealous grandmothers, scintillating conversation from Uncle J, a tad too much Pimms and you’ve got yourself a very Merry Christmas!

I’m not going to go into detail on the dishes, but I will just say that we ate a ridiculous amount of food and that it was all delicious.

We began with some prosecco and nibblies, including a delicious and refreshing ceviche made by Aunty M, who was hosting (and did a marvellous job to boot!)

Aunty M’s peperonata – so good it’ll blow your mind.

Oysters done several ways – my favourite were probably the raw oysters doused in aged red wine vinegar with shallots.

Spicy wok-tossed prawns, charred and sticky, these are always a favourite.

Le bar.

We forewent dry, tasteless turkey for several free range geese this year.

The goose went down a treat, dark but moist meat with a taste that is slightly gamey (most similar to pigeon). Hang tradition – I am never going back to turkey!

Mum’s ham, glazed to perfection. Good grief I love ham.

Mum also stuffed a couple of super fresh salmon from the Buxton fish farm with lots of herbs before baking them. Served cold, they went down very well with a spoonful of salsa verde.

Potatoes cooked in goose fat.

Walnut, pistachio, parsley and pomegranate salad.

Green salad with raisins.

Dig in.

Several hours later – desserts!! A tantalizing frolic through tiramisu, chocolate mousse, honeyed baklava and sugary pieces of Christmas shortbread.

My mum’s excellent (and rather boozy) fruitcake, which I had the honour of decorating – rolled out the icing like I was Adriano goddamn Zumbo. Total pro.

My aunt, who claims she’s not good at desserts, made a really delicious tart with an amaretto base and a light topping of cream laced with lime, passion-fruit and basil. Macerated strawberries added a pleasant sweetness to the dish, which was both light and refreshing, the basil saving it from being overly sugary.

Traditional Greek pastries and biscuits.

Uncle A made a delicious brûléed lemon tart that went down an absolute treat.

In all, it was a brilliant day, and I really enjoyed having the family all under one roof. I hope your Christmases were as enjoyable and full of delicious food!

Among other gifts, my parents bought me a great collection of food-related books. Not cooking books, but opinions and stories and tales from the world of food. I’ve begun with Steven Poole’s You Aren’t What You Eat, a brilliant and funny explanation of why he loves food but hates gastro-culture.

Despite being a blogger, I find myself agreeing with him on most points. His chapter on the menu as a sort of literary artefact that can subtly (or not so subtly) discriminate towards certain readers was well-researched and interesting. His chapter on ‘food as art’, skilfully tongue in cheek, comes to a great conclusion; ‘arguably the most culturally resonant use of sculptural food is the cake that adorns the cover of Let It Bleed – knocked up quickly by none other that Delia Smith’. Amen!

To use the wonderfully blunt words of Anthony Bourdain, ‘somebody has to call “bullshit” – regularly – on those of us who cook or write about food or talk about it’. As a food blogger, I’m probably guilty of not calling bullshit on anything regularly enough, but I do try to keep my feet on the ground when I write about food. Obviously I enjoy eating food, and I enjoy writing about it. And I’m usually pretty easy with my praise (though I think this is more to do with the unusually high standard of food in Melbourne than it is with me).

As much as I appear to be a bastion of the foodie culture, a devoted disciple of chefs and every morsel they deign to throw at me, ultimately I find the whole establishment of foodies and foodism ridiculous, and I’m not above laughing at myself and this blog. I don’t think food is an art form, I don’t think chefs are the new rock stars, I dislike super-foods and the very idea of people, some total strangers, being interested in what I ate last week is, let’s face it, absurd.

But for now, I will gladly roll around in post-Christmas bliss, and deal with such first-world existential issues another day. Tomorrow we will have bread rolls stuffed thickly with ham, cold potatoes, some left-over salmon and finish it all off with lemon tart and baklava. Can’t wait.

Canvas purse I bought in a market in Chelsea

Filed under: Home Cooking

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