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Many years ago, well about 40 years ago, I remember a conversation about Christmas and meals, it had to do with what people did, one person mentioned that in her family it was always the same thing, turkey, mash potatoes and green peas, gravy and stuffing.

I thought how absolutely boring and awful, the same old thing every year, pleeeease!!!

My father always liked different things for Christmas and because he was an hotel manager, would ask the Chef to prepare something different, out of the ordinary.  One year I still remember, I must have been 15 years old then, we had Scallops in Moutarde de Meaux and cream sauce as a main dish on Christmas Eve.

One Christmas followed another and were always different and unusual. Even the tree was out of the ordinary. With my Dad it had to be, he wanted innovative, something not done by anyone.

We also had Christmas around the world, only to discover that this Holiday is very much a North American thing, in many countries were I served, Christmas was not really a holiday at all but a Western World import. The most beautiful Christmas trees and lavish food for the holiday Season was in Poland. In Italy there was no tree per se, because it is a Northern European tradition, but lots of other dishes connected to a time when Noël was a secondary holiday to Easter in the Christian calendar. In China it was largely a big consumer thing around Santa Claus, the Chinese under Communist rule had no idea what it was and pushed instead shopping as a Xmas concept, very sterile. In Mexico we had great traditions mixed with old native beliefs and will never forget that Christmas night we were in the Zocalo after midnight at the Cathedral built on top of the former great pyramid of the Aztec gods. We were able to hear the choir and see the giant choir books from the time of Hernan Cortes.

In Egypt and Jordan being Muslim countries the holiday was celebrated in a muted way though Muslims recognize Jesus as a Prophet of God and Mary has one chosen by God (Allah) with special reverence. In Jordan King Hussein Bin Talal, a great man if there ever was one, he would visit the Christians churches in Amman and bring gifts and greetings to his Christian subjects. King Hussein was a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. His son King Abdallah II continues this tradition.

We do keep one tradition at Christmas and that is to have a home made Plum Pudding and to rotate dishes each year, from crown of lamb to prime rib roast beef to roasted goose. But other dishes are also important to have.

Looking at recipes here are some favourites from Dame Delia, CBE and Companion of Honour ;

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Potted Pork with Juniper and Thyme, with a Marmalade of Apples, Raisins and Shallots

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Prawn Cocktail

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Coarse Country Pate

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Chestnut Soup with Bacon and Thyme Croutons

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Duck Liver Pâté with Armagnac

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Rillettes of Duck with Confit of Cranberries

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Pheasant Terrine

Something truly different and fun for your holiday menu. I somewhat favour patés and terrines which are good for lunch and breakfast too.

 

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