Tuesday, 20 December 2011

December 20th - Return of the Prodigal

Dear Nigel,

Christmas has started in our house. It flickered into life as my red haired Hannah jumped off the train in Buxton with a broken suitcase and a smile as big as a Cheshire cat. We almost didn't make it in time on the grounds that i couldn't get into the landrover as the severe weather had frozen up all the locks. So she was back home, complaining, arguing and fighting her corner immediately - our old Hannah back unchanged by six months au pairing in Spain. And then came Chris the following day. Brought up from the midlands by my sister and her brood. Home. Hugged. Safe. He flew in from Cyprus on friday, six months, much-missed. The prodigal returns; so naturally i have killed the fatted calf and we are tucking into the Christmas fodder uncharacteristically early, i suppose. Just when is Christmas supposed to start? Christmas day? Christmas Eve? I suspect a fairly empty house at New Year as they will all have parties of their own to go to, so why not eat, drink and be merry now? Office parties are always early, as are school Christmas dinners, parties and friends get-togethers.

I've been slow-cooking venison casserole and a game casserole to freeze. The colour is so deep and chocolatey and a wonderful richness that just feels so right at this time of year. I get some chipolatas for the little ones in case they turn their noses up at it. My daughter brings us packets of hams and salamis from Spain and two huge long salamis, gifts from her Spanish family. It reminds me of my German exchange back in  the 70's and carrying foil-wrapped Kabanos back on the train from Germany, through Belgium, the ferry and home to my unsuspecting parents.I'm sure it's probably illegal these days but we will eat the evidence first.

You've been enjoying some faggots. I shall say nothing. You lament the fact that your favourite brand has disappeared, saying "there is much comfort in familiar tastes". I know just what you mean. It is that particular something that takes you back instantly to a particular day, or time in your life, and something similar just won't do it. Our senses aren't fooled by new improved, low fat, or whatever. I've just purchased a tin of grapefruit for Christmas morning - just for me, i don't expect anyone else to eat it - because i need it to take me back to a place and a time that can't be replicated by a fresh, ripe, succulent grapefruit. My sister does it too, i discover. Funny that.


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