How To Cook The Perfect Christmas Dinner!
2. If you have to, remain sober.
3. Not sober? Don’t be over ambitious.
4. Check size of turkey in relation to size of your oven.
5. Only invite guests that drink too, then they won’t notice the state you’re in.
6. Lower the lights so they can’t see the cat’s hairs in the first course.
7. Pour plenty of wine in the gravy to camouflage alien flavours.
8. Try to eat something yourself to soak up the alcohol intake in your blood.
9. Wear waterproof mascara for the inevitable moment when you cry/sweat.
10. Don’t ever get talked into doing it again.
My then still comparatively new man is assuming that because I ran a restaurant I could cook, and on the strength of this invited six good friends to Christmas day lunch. My cottage is small, and my kitchen is a galley.
They, including man looking smug and proud, are sitting round the dining table in the glow of myrrh-scented candles (No: 6). Their glasses are permanently being topped up, and they are feeding from a large oval dish of crudités and dips while I cook the first course. I have a very large copper pan full of mixed seafood being sautéed in butter, olive oil, garlic and herbs for the Italian style ‘Frito Misto’ I am ambitiously preparing. (No: 3) I give the heavy pan a chef like swirl over the heat, and amazingly, the entire contents of prawns, scallops, mussels and squid, take on a life of their own, and spiral into the air, hang suspended and dump themselves over the kitchen floor and into the cat’s dish!
I look furtively at my guests from the open plan galley. They’re laughing, drinking (No: 5) and talking merrily! Haven’t apparently seen a thing! I scoop everything up, from under the edge of fridges, washing machine and yes, the cat’s dish and throw it back into the pan, add fresh lemon juice, more black pepper, pray and serve it up in a large dish
for them to shell and pick at and dunk their crusty bread into the hot, garlic butter. I am saved. I sit and join in, but I can’t bring myself to eat (No: 8), so partake of a little more wine. (No: 2)
My oven is too small to take a turkey adequate enough for eight diners (No: 4). I am cooking three plump whole boned turkey breasts. They have been roasted, basted in butter and ready to ‘rest’ out of the oven to continue cooking in their own heat, while I make my gravy. I like gravy. I like rich, slightly thickened gravy, not much of a ‘jus’ person.
The saucepan has all the delicious roasting juices from the turkey breasts and I’m whisking in my flour, making a roux. I gently add my homemade chicken stock, stirring continually, watching it satisfyingly thicken. I reach over for my old fashioned Gravy Browning, pour, and stare in disbelief at the Fairy Liquid bottle in my left hand and the green globule slowly dissolving into my pan full of rich gravy! I panic! I slurp! I honestly think for one moment I am able to scoop the offending green Fairy Liquid out of the pan with a slotted spoon, add lashings of wine and get away with it! (No: 7)
I tip the gravy down the sink. I look at the residue in the roasting pan where the breasts are resting, but I’ve used it all. I have to resort to a chicken stock cube, cornflour and this time, the Gravy Browning, and not the Fairy. I am dripping, with perspiration and with tears. (No: 9)
My guests are having a deliriously happy time. I’m glad somebody is. I’m the hostess and I’m not! I serve up. Roast potatoes the Delia way; Crispy chipolatas and bacon; Baby Carrots caramelised with fresh grated ginger; Sprouts and roast chestnuts; Roast parsnips with Cinnamon; Moist Fruit stuffing; Carved Turkey breast and disgusting wishy washy gravy….
The compliments flow, the wine flows, the conversation gets more outrageous, my galley
kitchen is a tip, but I know the cheese course will be trouble free, and we have home-made Christmas Pudding Ice-Cream, Syllabub and fresh fruits and nuts to follow.
I manage the coffee and fudge without serious accidents, and feel my job is done, so sit back with an impressive looking Brandy Bottle in front of me, my special glass, my roll up tin and eventually join in the fun.
My company were blissfully unaware of all the ghastly happenings in my galley, of which I’m glad. I made man promise NEVER to invite friends for Christmas again, bearing in mind, the only time he goes into the galley is to visit the fridge for a beer……………
To summarise: This leaves points one and ten! I mean it, it’s just another roast dinner, well, that’s what we’re told. They’re lying! It’s a monumental task, hard, stressful, fraught, expensive, over lavish, unnecessary, somebody’s always drunk, either the guests, the host, or in my case, both.
This year, twenty of us are all contributing in our local by preparing and bringing all the vegetables, deserts, first courses, nibbles and a French Run for the booze, and our landlady is cooking the geese, ducks, turkey and beef and leaving us to run riot in the comfort of her lovely Inn.