WELL, it’s all over for another year and the question “Are you ready for Christmas?” has been replaced by “Did you have a good one?”
We did, thank you very much. Everything went quite smoothly, apart from a small incident during which the gravy police were forced to intervene.
As regular readers of this column will know my kitchen privileges were revoked this Christmas. I’d like to say I was obliged to take on an advisory role but I wasn’t even allowed that.
Firstborn decided some time ago that he would take it upon himself to produce the Christmas feast. As he and I don’t cook together very well - there has been unpleasantness in the past involving the production of everything from tapas to roast dinners - I was banned from having anything to do with the turkey.
This was actually a blessing as even the sight of the pasty, feather-pocked skin made me feel queasy. Turkeys look a great deal better fully roasted, golden brown and carved onto a plate.
I was allowed, however, to help make the gravy.
“You can use the giblets,” said The Boy, flourishing a plastic bag containing a gruesome collection of innards. There had been a momentary panic when we thought the butcher had diddled us on the giblet front. But there they were in all their goriness nestling inside the turkey.
I chopped an onion and some carrot, picked a handful of rosemary from outside the back door, closed my eyes and tipped the bag of giblets into a pan of boiling water.
The smell was, shall we say, something between a compost bucket and a dead mouse (I happen to know exactly how dead rodents smell as I have been a cat owner since I was 16).
“We need more herbs,” said the Boy Chef.
The Man-in-Charge offered to accompany me on a walk to the allotment to pick some sage leaves. Apart from anything else it got us out of the kitchen and away from the bossy one. Secondborn took over as sous chef. As the only non first-born in the house she has greater co-operative powers.
Upon our return the Man-in-Charge casually mentioned that we’d had the foresight to purchase some turkey gravy granules “just in case we needed them”.
We might as well have said we’d bought a set of frozen TV dinners “just in case something went wrong with the turkey”.
“I’m not using that filth”, shouted the Boy Chef. “I’m insulted that you don’t trust my gravy recipe.”
“Who does he think he is,” I whispered to the MIC, “the gravy police.”
Now at this point there were only two appropriate responses. The appeasing one, in which the MIC put the gravy granules back in the cupboard, or the ‘don’t you shout at me’ one, in which we held onto our well-meaning granules.
As it was Christmas we decided on the former approach. It is the season of peace and goodwill to all, even cantankerous chefs.
By this time the giblets were looking well boiled. “I think I’ll put some red wine in,” I said.
“No. Sherry,” replied the Boy Chef, waving a bottle of his father’s amontillado in the air.
“And you need to thicken it now.”
It was at this point I realised the gravy was no longer my responsibility. I stirred in some cornflour mixed with water and left him to it.
I noticed later that he added more cornflour and by the time the gravy arrived on the table it had clearly had all sorts of other things done to it.
“The gravy’s lovely, isn’t it,” said the MIC. And, you know what, it was.
In fact, the entire dinner was a triumph of succulent turkey, glazed parsnips, goose-fat roasted potatoes, bacon-dressed greens and whopping Yorkshire puds.
As we ate The Boy visibly relaxed. And when it was all over the MIC and I began to tackle the mountain of washing up.
It was then I realised that the great circle of life was once again in action. There was a time when The Ironing Fairy cooked Christmas dinner for everyone; then it was my turn; and now the Offspring have taken up the baton.
When I cooked, the Ironing Fairy was also the Washing Up Fairy; now that’s my job and she gets to watch Christmas specials on television. But I can’t say I mind too much because the dinner of Christmas 2012 was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.
Thanks Boy Chef and sorry about the granules.