You’ve spent the last 12 months ducking endlessly in and out of your pantry, the supermarket, and your cookbooks. You’ve opened the fridge more times than the Queen has opened buildings and every time you open the oven door, you wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to just climb in and end it for once and all?
And yet … you are faced with this – the single most important meal of the entire year. It is the meal with the most expectation, the most preparation, the most ingredients and often the most number of place settings.
The concept of planning, shopping for and executing the perfect Christmas feast can be a daunting task – particularly if your skills don’t extend far beyond a quick what-ever-is-in-the-crisper stir-fry and salads based entirely around a week old iceberg lettuce. However, there are some very salient point to remember at this time of the year.
Number one – There is always too much food. Always.
Not since Mary and Joseph camped in a stable and – bewilderingly – became parents, has anyone left the Christmas feast wishing there was more food (well, in the first world anyway). As much as you may be tempted to add just another salad, or another tray of roast vegetables – or to choose the bigger ham – remember, you won’t need it. No. Really, you won’t.
Number two – It’s Christmas – presentation is EVERYTHING.
Provided your table is well decorated, your dishes and serving bowls are all overtly festive and you have a good grasp on the concept of ‘garnishes’ – then a luke-warm bowl of baked beans can spark the same enthusiasm as a full roast turkey with all the trimmings. The more colourful the garnishes, the more they will disguise the week old ice-berg lettuce, or the fact that the ham is not glazed, (and nor was it ever going to be).
Number three – Everyone needs a drink.
Always start everyone off with a festive tipple. One of the greatest party tricks of all time – the drink you offer guests as they arrive can help you get away with a multitude of sins, short-cuts and downright disasters (okay, you may need them to have more than one, but the theory stands). In fact, you can spend just as much time planning the drink, just as much money purchasing the ingredients of the drink and just as much time cleaning up afterwards, as you would the entire rest of the meal.
Number four – Nobody wants a dud Christmas.
Never ever offer to host Christmas. Make sure your house is too small to accommodate all but your youngest nephew, unaccompanied by an adult. Give everyone mild food poisoning at least once every five years, and keep an impressive stack of take-away containers on your kitchen bench. Any display of kitchen competency will give you away instantly.
If you can capitalise on any, or all of these points for your Christmas feast, then you will probably survive. If you feel things are getting out of hand – resort to point number three.
Everything including the kitchen sink:
The Beastly Kitchen
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