It’s always said that Christmas is a time for family, and in a way I think that’s true. What I think is usually overlooked though is that most of us now live a life that is more detached from our biological families than people were a generation or two ago. I say biological family very deliberately, because on the whole I don’t think this leads to us having a great lonely hole that only families can fill, I think the opposite. I think we come together in little groups and pockets, gatherings and collectives, to make our own little families of choice. We find people who we love, and who love us back, in one way or another, and we make our new modern families – helping each other mend hearts and move house and all of the other stuff biological families used to do the majority of, including celebrating everything we can together. Most people belong to more than one urban family, little groups of loved ones they have formed at different times in their lives, meaning that for most people Christmas dinner is not just once a year any more.
On December 20th we gathered our urban family together to eat and celebrate Christmas together. As well as myself and my boyfriend Lawrence, there were friends we’ve both gathered along the way, from our time together in London, as well as my time in Paris and Leeds and the time Lawrence spent in Nottingham and Sweden.
We wanted to cook something nice, but we also wanted to have the maximum time to spend with everyone who was coming form far and wide. We don’t get to see them as much as we’d love to, so the time is precious. With that in mind, we settled on a simple menu with plenty of things that could be prepared the day before.
Whilst we got the desert platter ready (who wants to stop having fun half way through to go back to cooking?) we got into the festive spirit with Buck Fizz – because, when else?
Our starter was deep fried artichokes, served with a home made peppercorn aioli (recipe in Nopi).
To follow was a trey bake of parsnips, onion and roasted garlic with cherry tomatoes and a maple syrup glaze. Anna Jones’ Goodwill Pie, and some of the best roast potatoes I’ve ever achieved.
We rounded off the meal with, what has now become a tradition for us: a sticky toffee pudding. We make this every year and is by far one of the very best things about Christmas. This year we ended up making 5, so various people could take them back home to share with their other families.
After dinner we went to the living room, paper hats on the heads of those who they fit onto (myself not included), to share a cheese and exotic fruit plate. We had star fruit, winter cherries, kumquats and figs. We had cheese that people complained about the smell of but happily ate up and chocolate ivy leaves.
All in all, my first Christmas of the year was all I hoped it would be – surrounded by people who I love, and who love each other, and who will help me peal chocolate off a leaf and then eat it.