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Recently a good friend and blogger asked me about food for the Holidays, what type of food did you have as a child for Christmas etc… So I told him, he was a little taken aback, suffice to say that I and my siblings did not have your conventional upbringing especially when it comes to food and drinks. So no it was not turkey and mash potato with gravy and green peas or ham or whatever is usually served in most households. Wine was also served on a regular basis to adults until I was old enough to have a glass. Cocktails and bubbly made their appearance as a matter of fact at the table. My father always chose the wines, he liked Montrachet.

During my professional life in the many countries we lived in, the menu varied a great deal, various cultures have various fare. In many countries, lamb is a regular staple with chicken a close second, pork is not available and beef is usually served stewed not as a steak. Same with vegetables, in some places root vegetables or squash of all kinds or potatoes are abundant, rice is a side dish with all dishes. So you have to get use to different culinary traditions. Per example in Greece, they will served grilled tomatoes, rice and french fries all together with lamb or fish. In many countries butter is replaced by Ghee butter which is highly saturated in fat but gives the most wonderful taste to food. Also the concept of dieting, allergies or vegetarianism or not eating meat or certain foods is totally unknown and people will enquire about your health, because such condition is associated with the sick and the dying.

So through the years we have modified our Holiday menu to a point where the conventional is not the first thing that comes to mind. This also includes desserts and any sweet. In one country candied whole fruits was a delight to behold, in others it was honey and nut pastries in phylo dough, in others it was rich cakes and specialty chocolates of the finest ingredients made in small batches.

The country I enjoyed the most for wines was Italy, every Italian region has vineyards and all produce regional wines, the volcanic soil of Italy and Sicily produces great wines, red of course but for the last 150 years white wines. Going to the wine merchant was a delight, you could always pair wines with your meal and given the reasonable prices buying several cases for Xmas was a given. One year I found a champagne I truly loved, Jacquesson from France, an exceptional Champagne. If you come across that name, you should get a bottle.

This year will be a quiet Xmas at home, Charlottetown is very quiet and it is pleasant. Christmas Eve I think 3 people are coming over for drinks. Christmas Day we are 7 for Lunch at home. Everything for the meal has been bought including the wines so I do not have to do any more grocery shopping.

While shopping for Chestnuts, I discovered that you cannot find it here anywhere because it is simply something Islanders do not know. A strange thing, but its like veal, you cannot find it, no one carries it. Why? It does not appear that there is any reason. I finally did find chestnuts and beautiful ones at GLOBAL MARKET on St-Peter’s road at Mount Edward. It is an Asian/African grocery store and they carry the most incredible array of goods, most Islanders have never heard of most of it. I was very happy, it’s the second time Global Market has saved my bacon, Mr Will has a knack for asking for the most obscure ingredients at the last minute. In the case of the chestnuts, he is making Chestnut Ice Cream.

Best Wishes to all of you for a Happy Christmas!

A picture of Nora and Nick, the Official Xmas Dachshunds.