Sunday 28 December 2014

There was too much food

on Christmas Day. There usually is. It always bothers me. I hate to see food wasted and I know some of that would have been wasted.
The Senior Cat is not a big eater. Few people, if any, are at his age. I weigh more than I should but I genuinely do not eat big meals. A plate piled high with food is bound to make me feel less like eating.
I try to feed the two of us sensibly and within a budget.
But I do wonder about other people.
We have some lovely neighbours across the way. There were five adults and two children for Christmas lunch. The children are, to put it mildly, fussy eaters. On Christmas Day they had gingerbread (the Wise Men we had decorated the other day) and "dessert". They were surrounded by turkey, ham, roast vegetables and all the trimmings. They were not interested. All the effort was wasted on them.
As children we were expected to eat what was put in front of us. We had to sit at the table until we had finished our main course. Dessert, if we had it at all, was a treat. More often we were given a piece of fruit and told to eat it outside. I assume it gave my harassed parents an opportunity to talk without us. (It did not take my brother and I long to work out the meaning of that "Latin" conversation!)
And chicken was a Christmas treat. My maternal grandmother kept hens. She would kill, clean and cook what was really a fowl. We children would get a small piece each. It was supplemented with my maternal grandfather's indulgence, larger portions of ham straight from the bone. He would carve this and the fowl in front of us. I would keep my eyes firmly on my plate. My brother would wriggle - but not in anticipation.
My paternal grandmother did not keep hens. She would order a pair "roasting hens" from the butcher. The meat would be carved in the kitchen and delivered through the "serving hatch" into the dining room. My paternal grandmother also understood about sprouts. It was Christmas. There would be half a sprout (the smallest she could find) and it would be surrounded by peas we had podded. We could dip the sprout into the excellent gravy she made and get rid of the sprout first and then enjoy the rest of the meal. But yes, we were still expected to eat it. I quite like sprouts now - if they are properly cooked.
My maternal grandmother insisted on Christmas pudding. She had small trinkets that she would add to this and you had to be careful not to bite into one. She made brandy sauce for the adults and custard for the children. It did not matter how hot it was we had the full roast meal and pudding - and all the washing up that went with it.
My paternal grandmother would provide the roast because it was expected by most people back then but my paternal grandfather had other ideas about the second course. It was an occasion for fruit salad, jelly and ice cream. The ice cream came shaped like a brick and would be sliced up into squares. We children thought it was marvellous stuff.  All that was probably rather less work for my grandmother on the day. Afterwards my grandfather would wash up and we children were expected to wipe. We never minded too much because he would tell us about Christmas when he was a boy. It was one of the few times he would talk about his childhood. My father and his brother would help by clearing the table and putting the best cutlery and crockery back in the sideboard. It was, I suppose, all over fairly rapidly.
My grandmother would see to one thing. Putting any leftover meat into the fridge ready for the following day. She would try to have just enough for the two of them to have another meal.
Our neighbour came over yesterday and asked if we would like some ham and turkey. They still have too much in the fridge. I thanked her, accepted the offer - and put what I had planned to cook into the freezer. It will keep. We won't waste the other food.  She brought over a generous plateful - enough for us for two meals. "There's plenty more," she assured me.
It is very kind of her and I do appreciate the gesture - but it bothers me that people should have so much food in the first place. My grandmothers would be back on plain fare by now.

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