Folklore Thursday: Feast Through the Festive Season

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Christmas may be over but there are still plenty of opportunities to feast over coming weeks.

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My feasting started with Saturnalia and Winter Solstice– a time to indulge in fruited breads, mulled mead and wine, and sweet treats.

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I also made Christmas cake for stir-up Sunday in November. I didn’t make Christmas pudding but plan to next year, including silver sixpence for luck and prosperity, and maybe silver tokens to predict the future (a ring for marriage, hat for success, coin for prosperity etc). Mincemeat cake was a tasty treat too.

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I celebrate a Swedish Christmas Eve as my partners deceased mother was Swedish and it honours her. It included smoked fish, decorated eggs, pate, potato salad with and without beetroot, mixed salad and bread/ pate/ cheese/ pickles. It’s tasty and can be as light a meal as you want. It also lasts days.

 

I discovered the thirteen desserts of Christmas. I made a halfway attempt to replicate it as it sounded delicious. Rice pudding aside, the smorgasbord recommendations I found weren’t too sweet-heavy so it seemed like a good combination.

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I made fudge, tablet, candied fruit and almond caramel. I already had cake. The remaining 13 desserts include raisins, dates, almonds and walnuts, so will be easy to get next year. I’ll also add a home made rice pudding next year, including almonds to bring luck to anyone who finds them – and invite more people to join me.

Fresh, dried and candied fruit count for another three. Biscuits also count. It’s really a glorified sweet tray rather than 13 full-on desserts – for a full list visit this site. Most can be made in advance so preparation for it is easy, with enough time and planning.

My sister cooked a traditional turkey  feast for Christmas Day. It was delicious- and the leftovers she gave me will make tonight’s Christmas sandwich – another tradition.

My perfect Christmas sandwich needs to be room temperature and creative, on doorstep-thick soft white bread. I add mayo and mustard to whatever appeals: stuffing, chopped pigs in blankets, turkey, bread and cranberry sauce and maybe sliced roast potatoes. Pickle for dunking is an added bonus.

For Boxing Day, I packaged leftover not too perishable items (sweets etc) as gifts for friends (recycling Christmas food/gift packaging). I graze on the buffet from the previous days, and will continue to do so until it’s used up.

New Year is the next big feast. There is also a lot of food folklore relating to the night. In Portugal they eat 12 raisins at midnight for luck. Similarly, in Mexico and Spain, eating 12 grapes at midnight as the clock strikes once for each hour will bring luck for the next 12 months. In Greece they make Vasilopita cake. Eating almonds on New Year’s Eve is thought to bring prosperity as is eating lentils.

My favourite lentil dish involves slowly simmering green lentils with onions, carrots and celery, draining to fry with more of the same and optional chorizo then adding a generous sprinkling of sage and stirring in Dijon mustard. Add miso paste to taste. It’s delicious on its own (skip chorizo to make it vegan), comforting with lashings of butter and a good base for Parma ham wrapped cod or pollock.  It’s also tasty cold and works with vinaigrette dressing too. It even makes a good veggie lasagne base.

Other New Year food traditions include eating black-eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens (“peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.”), grapes, pomegranates, cakes, fish, noodles and rice. Eat long noodles eithout breaking them for a long life, and rice to be rich.

And then in January comes Chinese New Year. I’ll post about that nearer the time. For now, happy feasting.

 

 

 

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