I love Christmas. Scrap that. I ADORE Christmas. What's not to love? I am totally bound up in the rituals of it all and am currently tracking down the perfect advent calendar for me. (For some lovely advent ideas have a look here). I don't like the chocolate filled ones, they are just not right, neither are the ones with branded characters, cartoons etc. I like a cardboard one with a beautiful festive scene and lovely little illustrations underneath every window, preferably of candy canes, puddings and angels. My all time favourite one was a Woodmansterne one with beautiful angels flying in a night sky. My personal all time low was one Dominic bought me in sheer desperation from a religious book shop, one with a nativity scene. The illustrations were really rubbish (the donkey looked demented) and behind each window was a pointer to a bit of the bible to read. I know Christmas is about Christ, the clue is in the title, but I am not especially religious and like to see it more as a yuletide celebration, a sort of shining beacon in the darkness and chill of deep winter. I realise the fact that my favourite one featured angels is a massive contradiction to what I have just said, but there you go. I am quite a contrary girl. And anges are pretty in a way that demented donkeys and sinister looking magi are not.
Anyway! The best bit of Christmas is of course the food. Food to me sums it all up, its about bounty, sharing, pleasure, decadence and comfort. A Christmas without Christmassy food is not worth considering. I am not one of those people who wants to go abroad somewhere hot for Christmas and eat Thai curry instead of a plump bird with all the trimmings. That would not do at all. I might consider Christmas in a colder-than-ours European country, perhaps somewhere like Sweden or Switzerland, where I am betting they do Christmas really, really well on the culinary front.
There is a little part of my brain permanently dedicated to Christmas food planning, but the planning really starts in earnest about now with the Christmas editions of all the food magazines that I buy.
The picture which opens this post is of my December food magazine file. In a way that is very uncharacteristically organised of me, I do keep my food magazines in files according to the month of the year so they can easily be referenced in future years. The Christmas one is full to the brim and I think I need to either get rid of some of the older ones (like the ones from the 90s maybe!) and make room for the new ones, or start another folder!
One Christmas magazine that I will never get rid of though is this one.
I bought this about 4 years ago, and now I drag it down from the box every year and spend a good hour re reading the wisom of Saint Delia. It is a classic and has some fab recipes in, including one that I have adapted into my own Christmas chutney 9recipe coming soon). I love the way that she says it goes well with 'assertive cheeses'. Everytime I read it I imagine chunks of stilton marching across the table and demanding to be accompanied!
I know people think Delia is perhaps a little dull, and certainly some of her programmes would suggest that a charisma bypass has infact been performed, but for simple, no nonsense and traditional recipes that don't fail, she cannot be beaten. Anyway, she has her wild side as can be seen here when after too many sherrys she gloriously abandoned her bland image and came over all firey - come on Delia!
So, here you have it
this years magazines, a glass of rioja and candlelight. Looks like I am in for a festive evening...