I am all for embracing the traditions and celebrations of our host countries (as you have probably noticed by now!), but it’s also important to remember our own traditions, especially for the sake of self-identity for our two small global citizens, who may not actually remember that many real English Christmases after all! Christmas is quite important to us as a family, and whilst we are not religious, we look forward to it and relish the few days when we can relax together after another hectic year. And of course the traditional English Christmas dinner is compulsory, with ALL of the trimmings… This is something we always try and achieve each year, no matter how hard it is to source those all important ingredients, and whilst most families up and down the UK will be having exactly the same as us on Christmas day, I like to think we enjoy it that little bit more, especially if we have been successful in finding everything to make it as authentic as possible!
In the weeks before we left Copenhagen, one of the places I probably frequented the most was the brand spanking new Torvehallerne, a beautiful compact Fresh Food market smack bang in the heart of the city. It was such a novelty to find so many amazing fresh products that had previously been as rare as hen’s teeth. And so in search of the all important components of our Christmas Meal, the Fresh Food market here in Munich, the Viktualientmarkt was my first port of call. It’s slightly older than Torvehallerne though, as it’s been here since the early 1800’s.
The first challenge was to find the all important Truthahn (Turkey) amongst all the the Ente (duck) or Ganse (geese) that are the more traditional birds of choice for Christmas dinner in these parts. The general consensus of opinion from a lot of shops and stallholders was that we should have perhaps thought about it earlier, as ordering deadlines had been and gone, but what with the move and a very hectic few weeks, we are slightly more disorganised than usual (to put it mildly!)… Thankfully luck was on our side this time, and we have a “stunned” truthahn waiting for its big day in the fridge.
You can’t have a turkey without all the trimmings of course, so the next careful negotiation was for vegetables. There’s plenty to choose from when it comes to fruit and veg at the Viktualienmarkt, and nearly all of the stalls are beautifully presented (which I suppose should have been a sign!). At our stall of choice, I made a last minute decision to add a butternut squash to our haul, and plucked one from a nearby table to present to the stallholder who was busy totting up. Suddenly, out of nowhere a woman sprung up from behind the gourds shouting “nicht berühren, nicht berühren” which basically means “don’t touch, don’t touch” (like it needed translating!), so I hastily put it down again. Speaking to customers in a certain tone never goes down well in my book (especially for such a minor crime, I hadn’t literally upset the apple cart), so I took my time deliberating over each and every single squash that she then held up for my inspection, and took great pleasure in cheerfully dismissing each one. I then felt it prudent to go to the stall directly opposite (where the Butternut Banshee watched me glowering) and where I selected what (quite typically) looked like the only squash available. The very fact that it actually weighs almost as much as the truthahn itself (seriously), and is also quite possibly the most expensive singular vegetable we have ever bought, was well worth it (even if after we have managed to consume it we can never look at one again!).
Anyway, we now successfully have the bird, the potatoes, the brussels sprouts, the parsnips, the squash(!), and the chipolatas, to be wrapped in what looks like acceptable bacon. The only thing missing is the Christmas pudding, and I think I have run out of time to make that, unless anyone can recommend a super-quick recipe?? If not, we are having trifle! I wonder how many other expats have suddenly developed baking skills they never knew they had out of pure necessity… it’s not through aspiring to be the next Nigella believe me!