OK – prepare yourselves for a shock. I myself am still reeling from it . . . looking around in a sort of bewildered way, wondering how it all happened.
Here’s the big news: I have a goose in my (very miniature) fridge . . . which I am apparently going to try and cook on Christmas Day in my (very miniature) oven. Yes. I told you it would be a surprise. And not only that – my sober judgment has collapsed so completely that I not only have a goose in my (very miniature) fridge, but I also am the proud possessor of 2 cans (cans!) of goose grease with which I am going to prepare the roast potatoes!
I’m quite stunned about it actually. One moment of wondering if perhaps I ought to try and do the traditional English thing since it’s perhaps our last year in England and look where it’s gotten me! I’ll be pouring boiling water all over a goose and poking it full of holes with a darning needle and hanging it by open windows to dry and wondering if this is how goose is actually supposed to look when it’s done and dealing will all the emotional scarring that will result from the whole experience. And having succumbed so far (don’t you always have a horrible urge to say “succame” instead of “succumbed”? Or is that only me?) into the Traditional English Christmas Dinner Menu . . . I have gone the last and unalterable step and thrown in the towel completely. I actually have a Christmas pudding in all its raisiny, suetty, blackness sitting in my kitchen, waiting to be steamed for 2 hours in the oven and lit on fire for dessert. (Or is that the Christmas cake you’re supposed to light on fire? I’ll have to double check that.) This whole thing is very disconcerting.
For one thing, I have no expectation that any of us will actually LIKE any of it. We’re doing this purely out of a very noble and stoic spirit . . . wanting to have actually DONE the English Christmas dinner. Unfortunately it appears that most of the English actually eat turkey at Christmas nowadays . . . and that in and of itself seems to be a bad sign. They have veered away from that very Dickensian ideal of a Christmas Goose, and we can only ask ourselves, “Why?” Is it because the goose tastes bad? Because it’s such a pain to cook? (I hear that there’s so much fat that you have to tip it all out once an hour to prevent lighting the house on fire.) Or is it because goose ISN’T actually traditional and Dickens was just making things up? None of these options sounds very promising for how we’ll like our dinner, to say nothing of whether or not I am capable of actually cooking a goose.
On the other hand, we have positively revelled in the mince pies . . . and that might mean that there’s some hope for us that we might like traditional English holiday fare. The mince pies are truly quite fab. And I speak as a person who despises a raisin above most other things. And suet scares me out of my wits. Basically anything containing a BLACK raisiny interior would be a food group which I would be bound to dislike intensely. And yet, in spite of all, we eat mince pies like there’s no tomorrow. Mince pies are omnipresent here in December. Even at Starbucks they sell mince pies which is quite hilarious. Everywhere we go we are offered mince pies and mulled wine . . . at every carol service in every church they are handing them out by the bucketful, and even in the “Pound Store” where we take the kids to shop for each other’s Christmas gifts they have a little card table in the corner where they hand out complimentary mince pies and plastic cups of mulled wine. And we like it so much that we continue doing the same thing at home – my kitchen is well stocked with mince pies and mulled wine for this coming week. So perhaps it will turn out that we have an inexplicable taste for English Christmas food in spite of its random appearance, and that we will find ourselves in the coming years trying to duplicate it at home. Then again, I might go ahead and have some spaghetti material and ice cream on hand just in case – especially since all the McDonalds will be closed on Christmas . . .