Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Deck the halls
Jess bought me a Christmas tree on Sunday; that was thoughtful and kind of course but the kindness was really to the Christmas tree. It is to trees as those runty puppies with one lame leg, a bashed in eye and mangy fur are to the canine population. The sort of puppy they use in adverts for Dog's Homes. They do it to try to tug at your heart strings, please very kind person give this mutt, that no-one could possibly want, a home. How could my lovely humane daughter resist and how could we? So we have lopped bits off, propped it up and filled the yawning gaps with our biggest baubles. I scoff now at the forests of perfectly shaped trees that adorn our neighbours' windows, how boring, how obvious; not the sort of tree for us at all.
Ours matches perfectly the slightly wonky cake I made, the very tipsy puddings and no doubt the oozing mince pies that are on today's festive factoring agenda. I am, as you will have gathered, something of a Christmas hero, especially this year and no, fear not I am not going to turn into one of those teary Grannies that weep through their turkey and trimmings because this may be the last chance they get to do so. Even though I have been a bit prone to the miseries recently, it's this bloody cold and my cricked leg. They make me feel old and tired and ill and I begin to wonder if I am going to feel better or is this the slide downwards. So the Christmas cheer is just what I need and filling my days with Yuletide fiddle faddling.
Today I am planning the meal and making sure I have everything ordered from the two or three supermarkets chains that are, as we speak, searching the highways and bye-ways with the sole purpose of provisioning our groaning table. I am even going to desert Delia and her turkey under a foil tent that has stood me in good stead for the last 10 years or so and which I always think about when I am sleeping under the roof of our bedroom in Maumont; the previous owner thought it a good idea to line the very highly pitched ceiling with silver insulation materials and like our tree, we have learned to live with it. This year I will try Heston Blumenthal's method which entails soaking the bird in a salt bath for 10 hours (well it worked for the Romans), then tenderly stroking its breast(s?)underneath the skin with thick swathes of butter and gently heating it up until it is just begging us to tear into its eager flesh.
Of course ours will probably have one leg shorter than the other and be even uglier than the average, ugliest bird in the world, turkey; but I will love it just the same and after all that salt soaking how could I possibly add to its burden by weeping and wailing over its beautiful, tender, butter crisped skin.