As much fun as the run up to Christmas is – the actual event divides us. The stress of buying presents that outdo the ones you gave last year or the traditional family arguments has everyone bee-lining for the drinks cabinet upon arrival! And even though you don’t need a manual to overcome the holiday blues, here is my mantra to see you through the ‘Season of Goodwill’ without needing rehabilitation.
All you need to remember is that Christmas is all about tradition. Food tradition.
Presents may come and go but ultimately the reunion of family and friends around a table sharing the same food is what is important. And what stays with you when you grow-up is the familiarisation and comfort that that food tradition brought.
Our family’s food tradition at Christmas, like many other families in Gibraltar (other than the quintessential prawns, cured meats and cheeses plentiful at every Christmas table) was that on 24th December we would have roast leg of pork followed by my Granny’s trifle and on 25th December we would have roast turkey followed by Christmas pudding and custard with Grandpa’s cinnamon-induced-coughing-fits!
Boxing Day is where many families differed. In our house, so as not to waste the good meat from Christmas Day, we would have croquettas.
A croqueta is a small breadcrumbed fried food roll containing mashed potatoes and ground meat/shellfish/fish/vegetables and mixed with bechamel sauce.
Again – how your family made these is another tradition. Making a bechamel sauce would make it richer in taste and definitely more decadent but in a bid to use up Christmas roast leftovers, we would use any remaining roast potatoes (usually having to quickly boil some more) and leftover turkey. I always remember my Mum and Grandpa processing turkey and potato leftovers in one of those 70’s/80’s stand alone beige plastic electric food grinders. Then shaping the croquetas into sausage shaped rolls and dregging them through breadcrumbs, egg and then breadcrumbs again before frying them in oil.
Even now, celebrating Christmas in the Uk our family tradition is kept going. Leftover turkey and roasties are destined to be Boxing Day croquetas. More recently I’ve been partnering these with my homemade chilli jam but ketchup is just as great!
By the looks of it, we’re not the only family to do this, as Antony Worrall Thompson has provided a turkey and ham croqueta recipe in the Daily Mail’s Boxing Day edition.
So remember, keeping your food traditions is what it is all about.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and wish you the best for the New Year.