As Christmas comes closer, I start thinking about food.
Well, the truth is I`m often thinking about food…
But this time of year I`m dreaming about it. Even more than usual.
There is so much about food I love – planning, shopping, preparing, sharing – and that`s all before I get to the eating. Most Saturday mornings you`ll find me in the kitchen, blissfully surrounded by piles of vegetable peelings and bubbling pans.
So as December approaches, I relish the opportunity to pore over recipes, plan menus and spend hours chopping, rolling, stirring and tasting.
The scent of cinnamon and cloves, the crunch of chestnuts, stocking up on fancy cheese and biscuits and digging out Delia Smith`s Christmas with four decades and two generations of scribbles in the margins are the highlights of Christmas for me. Not simply because I get to eat all that food – although, if I`m honest, I am going to enjoy every bite.
But because of who I get to eat – and cook – it with. These festive treats are past memories – and the future promise – of family, and friends gathered together.
Food is so much more than fuel to get us through the cold months.
It`s an opportunity for conversation, and laughter. The chance to connect – and reconnect – as we savour not just the taste, but the time spent away from our work, and our screens, to nourish our souls as well as our bodies.
- So, I will be finding the festive spirit in the kitchen with my mum and sister-in-law on Christmas Eve as we slice and grate, weigh and whisk, the cousins playing together in the next room.
- I will find it talking through dessert recipes with my kids, as they each decide what they want to create this year.
- As I pour champagne, treasuring the bittersweet memory of my dad topping up my glass with a smile.
- Balancing a foil-wrapped dish on my knees as we head down South for the annual gathering at my brother`s house.
- Hunting for a set of matching plates.
- Digging out the camping table to stack extra pots on.
- Choosing napkins.
- Retelling the same old stories, our bellies full and cheeks rosy.
There is a lot we can find to dislike about the pressures of this season. The materialism. The waste. I`ve had times when I`ve questioned the extra expense on food we don`t really need, given the millions with not enough.
But I`ve come to the conclusion that as human beings, we need times of feasting, and celebration. Times of abundance when we choose the best, the tastiest, over “that`ll do” and scraping by.
Times to remember that life is a marvellous and precious gift, full of wonder and beauty.
And times to cherish, to linger and appreciate those we can share it with.
Wishing you a joy filled and peaceful Christmas