Thursday, 25 December 2014

Traditional Christmas fare

As regular readers will know, Jane and I have a very wide repertoire of recipes and favourite foods; we eat British food, Asian food, Mediterranean food, Caribbean food - food based on recipes and ingredients from all round the globe. But when it comes to Christmas, we want traditional English food. We always want roast Turkey for Christmas dinner, accompanied by all the usual bits and pieces - roast potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, Parsnips, sausages wrapped in bacon, Sage-and-onion stuffing, bread sauce, gravy, etc, etc.

Around our country - indeed around many other parts of the world - people will be eating meals like that on Christmas Day. It is a familiar scene! Today however, I want to show you some of the other food and drink items that we associate with Christmas.

I know lots of people will join me in considering this first one an essential element of Christmas fare - home-made Sloe Gin:

This Gin is drunk as a liqueur. It's not traditional to add Tonic water and a slice of lemon! It has a delicious fruity plum flavour and a lovely warming effect. Somehow Sloe Gin doesn't seem right in the Summer-time; it only seems appropriate at Christmas. Last year I made loads of it, so the bottle you see in my photo is about 15 months old - nicely matured. I didn't make any this year because I thought I already had enough, but that is my last bottle so I shall definitely need to make some more in 2015. [If you want to read about making Sloe Gin, I have written about it a couple of times before, so use the Search facility in my side-bar to look for the key word "Sloe", or just follow this LINK ]

Here is another thing I associate with Christmas - Panettone:

Panettone is a type of sweet fruit bread, originating from the Milan area of Italy. Here in the UK it is becoming more widely available, even though I would not say it is hugely popular (yet). Incidentally, mine came from Lidl. It amuses me to see the artificially even distribution of the dried fruit in the illustration on the packet, as compared with the real loaf (below)!

I normally eat Panettone as a dessert, usually with a glass of Port (or maybe Sloe Gin).

This is something that is definitely part of the Christmas routine in our house - mixed nuts in their shells:

I think part of the attraction is the challenge of getting the nuts out of their shells. There is a definite knack to this, and I don't think I've got it! I usually end up with both shell and nut splintered into about 100 little shards instead of the whole kernel coming out smoothly in one piece. I remember when I was little my Granny had a metal nut-picker, a bit like the things you use for removing whelks and snails from their shells. It was rather like a very thick trussing-needle. Very effective it was too. I wonder if they still exist?

Medjool dates are another food item that we only buy at Christmas-time. Actually I don't think they are available in our shops for most of the year, even though as you can see from the label on the pack pictured below, they have a long shelf-life.

Medjool dates are the biggest and most succulent type of date and they are considered a luxury item. They have a soft sticky texture, and a taste that is almost like caramel. Their flesh is fibrous, but not in an unpleasant way. We often eat these dates alongside nuts, perhaps with some cheese, as a dessert after our dinner.

Wishing all my readers a Happy Christmas - hopefully full of good things to eat and drink!

Best Wishes.



  1. Merry Christmas and I so enjoy reading your blog.

  2. A Happy Christmas to you too Mark. It's so interesting to read about food that I'm not (so) familiar with. The sloe gin looks wonderful! We've got three German guests at the moment (friends of my sons) and they came with some wonderful chocolates, baked goodies and liqueur. The last lines in your post made me want to share this bit about the season. The feast goes on...

  3. We had chocolate chip panettone which was delicious

  4. Merry Christmas to you and Jane, Mark. Enjoy all your wonderful food...whatever you have will be delightful I know! We had a beautiful Pavlova and today it will be Southern pecan pie for dessert and red velvet cake balls. Turkey and honey baked ham will be the meat served with mashed potatoes, bread crumb dressing, green beans and a nice salmon cheese ball. Yum. The feast is about to begin! Happy New Year, too, and hope to "chat" more in the new year, too.

  5. Our family celebrates Christmas (with all the traditional fare) on Christmas Eve. Christmas day is for waking early, gift opening and a festive breakfast....the rest of the day is all about lounging, playing, and eating leftovers. Hope you are having a wonderful (& very tasty) Christmas!

  6. Merry Christmas to you and your family Mark. Nice to see the traditions surviving.


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