My daughter is learning about celebrations at school and looking at the list on the classroom wall I was stuck be how central food is to celebration. Whether you celebrate Eid, Easter, Thanksgiving or indeed Christmas you probably associate food with holidays to a lesser or greater degree. I can usually tell its Ramadan as the shops start selling loads of dates. Hot cross buns appear in all the bakeries in the lead up to Easter, and the price of prawns and crayfish goes through the roof due to increase demand in the lead up to Christmas.
Christmas foods in Australia tend to be a strange combination of; European Christmas traditions and efforts to utilise the produce in season locally. What this often results in is menu combinations such as: barbecued prawns to start followed by roast turkey with all the trimmings then finally plum pudding ice cream. One day perhaps there will be a uniquely Australian Christmas dinner which takes into account our climate and the seasonal produce available in the meantime these are the foods that mean Christmas to me.
1. Brussel Sprouts – An English friend of my partners refuses to make roast unless he has a least 7 vegetables to serve alongside it. This is particularly true at Christmas. One of these 7 must always be brussel sprouts. In fact Christmas (and even then only if I am celebrating it in England) is really the only time I ever eat them – smothered in gravy and along with parsnip, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and of course potatoes done at least two ways.
2. Strawberries – Christmas falls at the height of the Victorian strawberry season and as a result they always form part of the Christmas day dessert in my family. Temperatures here on Christmas day can vary quite a bit. If it’s hot we often have meringues with strawberries and cream. If its cooler we have brandy snaps with strawberries and cream.
3. Satsumas – This is a relic of my time in the UK. I’m not sure where satsumas are in season in December but they sure sell an awful lot in the UK. While fruit salads are very much a part of Christmas here in Australia in the UK I can’t remember eating much fresh fruit other than satsumas at Christmas. I do remember eating a lot of satsumas though.
4. Parsley – In my family if the weather is hot we have ham and salads at Christmas. If its cooler we have roast. Either way parsley features heavily. My mum makes a stuffing of bread crumbs, bacon, onion and parsley for the roast. If we have salad then one of them has to be tabouleh as its my and my mum’s favourite.
5. Green Beans – Green beans are just coming into season in Melbourne at Christmas. They are great hot with roast or cold in a salad and they go well with that other Christmassy ingredient – nuts.
I would love to know which fruit & veg you cook with at Christmas.
I won’t do a Top 5 next week but will try and return the week after with something new.