As I write, the appetite team are dancing (dancing – in the office, if you please) around the Christmas ‘tree’. Actually, it isn’t a tree, it’s an abomination of wire and green tinsel which, because it spends 11 months of the year packed away in a loft, has to be coaxed back to life with the aid of strong arms, fairy lights (which take all afternoon to get working) and the liberal application of baubles and fake snow which appears to be made from the noxious residue of some form of chemical warfare.
Meanwhile, this gaggle of lunatics – who are, the rest of the year, highly accomplished, mature professionals – are singing loudly along to the office Christmas CD (Cliff Richard has just launched into Mistletoe and Wine, if you’re interested) and sharing supermarket mince pies most sane humans wouldn’t give to the dog.
Which leads me to ask, dear reader, what happens at Christmas? People who spend the rest of the year studying Nigel Slater’s latest tome while enjoying avocado on artisan sourdough toast seem to become afflicted with a virus which leads them to the rampant harvest of highly processed party ‘food’. This includes an unspeakable horror called a ‘prawn ring’, widely available in a popular frozen food shop, and any dish you can name, including Yorkshire puddings, reduced to miniature Alice in Wonderland-style snacks which I am told you are supposed to present to visiting friends and family before stuffing the local landfill with the acres of packaging which result.
I believe in keeping to tradition, when the preparation of party food took days and resulted in extreme hostess stress, sweat, smudged lipstick and frizzy hair, but at least could be served with genuine pride. The pages within this edition are packed with inspiration, which should make a trip to the wasteland that is the ready-made canapé aisle unnecessary.
Bah humbug – and a Happy – and tasteful – Christmas to you!