/ Food & Drink

The tastes of Christmas past and present: what are yours?

Christmas dinner

For me, there are certain foods that have to be there to make Christmas. But as I’ve adopted new traditions, some of my former must-haves have fallen by the wayside. So what will you be putting on the table this year that you wouldn’t have in Christmases past?

My Christmas Day stalwarts include a massive turkey (leftover turkey sandwiches with a generous heap of mayo are a given), pigs in blankets, sausage-meat stuffing, two veg (always carrots and sprouts) and Christmas pudding for dessert.

These elements have been ever present for all my Christmases and will be once again this year for my 47th.

But just as there are must-haves, so there are definite must-nots at my table. I could never, ever entertain swapping turkey for a goose. And I just don’t get people who add a Yorkshire pudding to their Christmas dinner plate.

And my mince pies have to be shortcrust pasty (surely a puff pastry one is just an Eccles cake?) with a traditional filling. Although I am tempted this year by the frangipane-topped mince pies recipe that was first published in the magazine a few years ago and has been a favourite of one of our team ever since.

In with the new

But who’s to say one 25 December in the future won’t see me tucking into a roast goose with Yorkshires on the side? After all, as my life has moved on and new people have come into it, I’ve added some taste traditions and some have ultimately fallen by the wayside.

Christmas Day evening and into Boxing Day now sees the buffet table crammed with crustaceans – crab, prawns, lobster (the latter, if we’re really lucky) – a welcome new tradition that’s come from marrying a Portuguese man with a fishing captain father.

Then there’s Leitao, a Portuguese suckling pig (bought ready cooked and eaten cold), which provides a real bonding session for the three generations of Mendes men we’ll have round the table this year.

And the boxes of deep-fried festive Portuguese pastries stacked up on the breakfast bar have replaced the traditional toast before opening presents.

Adulthood brought for me an intolerance to nightshade foods, so roast spuds have been swapped with sweet potato mash when it’s just my husband and me. But as we have the in-laws this year, I’ll be trying our special Which? extra-easy roast potatoes that can be mostly made in advance.

And instead of the illicit few sips of Babycham from my youth, I’ll be having a more grown-up glass of champagne to accompany present-opening.

Changing tastes

While testing this year’s Christmas food and drink favourites and with our 60th anniversary celebrations still fresh in our minds, we got to thinking about how much even the most traditional Christmas foods have changed over the years.

Nowadays, mince pies come in all sorts of guises. This year, we set our expert pastry testers an extra taste challenge: non-traditional mince pies you can pick up on the high street. These included the addition of ginger and ginger bread, plus the aforementioned frangipane.

We also compared the ingredients that featured in the Christmas puddings we tested this year to those from a recipe from the 1950s. We found that where eggs and ale were both present in Christmas puddings from the past, eggs don’t tend to feature today and ale has mostly been replaced by brandy or some other liquor.

And who’d have thought, back in the 1980s, when ‘I’d love a Babycham’ was a catchphrase, how prosecco would be the most popular fizz today?

 

What makes your Christmas food? Are there things you must have? And what traditions have you left behind?

Comments
Member

What is actually being celebrated now ? Santa Claus ? if Jesus is a mythical figure as well as the Old Testament +New Testament which is really a European invention as the Old testament is actually the Torah and not really relevant to Christianity . If it makes people happy so be it as long as they realise they are now celebrating a Disney character who is promoted for commercial profit . You no longer get any relevance on the commercial media to religion so its banned . Why not be more honest and say its a time to spend your money and If you are poor get into massive debt . I see the SNP in Scotland are backing with cash Food Banks due to massive social welfare cut backs , now isn’t that more like the Xmas spirit ? There is no feeling of what Christmas felt like to many people my age its dead and gone so just who or more like how many companies are we celebrating now ? Amazon must be the face of Xmas future and in the East it isn’t a “star in the sky ” its Alibaba that well known Chinese multi $billion company . Xmas -bah humbug !

Member

Duncan – calm down dear (and, isn’t this topic supposed to be about favorite Christmas Foods?).

PS – best wishes for a Happy Winter Solstice 😉

Member

The Christmas Party

I’m dreaming of a Which? Christmas,
Just like the ones we used to know.
When our Lauren’s tipple
Looks just like ripple
And Joe and Adam sing quite low.

I’m thinking that our Mel is drinking,
While Adrian and Ellie dance.
Where Vanessa & Alex are seen,
And atop the tree sits Mr Steen.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With Duncan, Malcolm, John and Me,
And there’s Wavechange and Beryl
(And Vynor’s quite feral),
And Derek, cavorting with some glee.

I’m hoping for a white Christmas,
When Sophie’s Enterprise succeeds,
But the best time of all is right here,
With our friends and Conversations’ Cheer.

Member

WOW! That’s brilliant, Ian. Thanks for sharing

Member

I’m not sure how I feel about sitting on top of a Christmas tree 🎄 😂

Member

Brilliant, Ian. I’m working out if we can somehow perform this for you… wonder how we logistically stick @patrick on top of a Christmas tree 🤔 🎄 🎅🏻

My tipple would probably be Baileys based… a mince pie will always tell me it’s Christmas time! 😊

Member

I was referring back to your well-known tradition of a Bloody Mary 🍷 🥃 🍸 🍹

Member

I imagine you’d feel sore but we could always pad it a bit 🙂

☃️ ⛄️

Member

If you all want to rehearse, here’s the orginal

Member

Of course! Yes, it’s not Christmas Day in the Deitz household without a Bloody Mary!

Member

We start the day with a G&T and a mince pie in my house!

Member

Up there with the best of them Ian, much enjoyed.

Member

Fabulous, as ever, Ian! I probably will be drinking on Christmas Day, to be fair. Hopefully, it will be a few glasses of BB prosecco. 😊 As for past/present elements on the Christmas table chez moi, the Brussels are still very much on offer, but now they come drenched in marsala wine, and served with chestnuts and pancetta – a Nigella Lawson recipe, I believe. They actually get eaten when served like this.

Member

😲😥😢😪😭😭😭😭 I wasn’t invited to the party, 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

Member

That’s ‘cos you didn’t bring your harp.

Member

Member

Alfa: profuse apologies; you were in the orginal draft but here’s an emended v3 for you:

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With Duncan, Malcolm, John and Me,
And there’s Wavechange and Beryl
(And Vynor’s quite feral),
With Alfa, dancing with such glee.

Member

And can the mods kindly delete the Carneades entry above, which happened when the system forgot I was logged…

Member

All sorted for you, Ian. We rolled out some updates so there may be a little glitch in our system – I’ll run this past Paul (our developer).

Member

I didn’t realise we were expected to be taking notes.

Member

🙂💃🏻🙃💃🏻🙂💃🏻🙃💃🏻🙂💃🏻🙃💃🏻🙂💃🏻🙃💃🏻😇

Member

The emoji alternating with the dancing girls shows up as a rectangle on my browser, Alfa. Switching browser produces boxes with code numbers.

Member

They don’t seem to work in Internet Explorer 11. They are ok in Firefox but look exceptional in Opera as they appear quite large so you can see what they are.

Member

That’s strange. They are now showing up in both my browsers.

Member

Amazing! But it’s probably a good thing you’ve never seen me dance…

Member

Alfa-iE is being phased out in Windows 10 and EDGE is “edging in ” .Its still there to work with older apps but it is not being maintained to the same degree .

Member

So many questions and probably no answers. Was the music on the web or did you scan it from somewhere? How? I don’t recognise the format as being Sibelius or Capella, which I use, so is it a “picture”? How did you get the words in? (Interestingly these show up with red lines under the non-standard words. Mine do too when typing, but these disappear when the text is published, so yours are still being spell-checked on site.) How did you circumnavigate the formatting process? Can I do it with any of my own music or does it have to be a commercial copy? If this is taken from a sheet music copy, where are the words you replaced and how were they altered? Did you have to adjust a word to the note it related to or did your computer do this for you? If so, what did you use?
Oh, and congratulations, by the way, brilliantly done!

Member

Wow! Okay: I’ve done several arrangements of the song for close harmony groups (6 male voices – 2 x altos, 1 x tenor, 2 x baritones 1 x bass) and some for full choirs and orchestra but this was an arrangement on the web.

I edited the different strands together and made it into a png image, then uploaded it to the same site on which I host the User Guide.

Getting the words in is the easy bit: Macs come with Pages – a free and extremely versatile WP prog – which is what I used to insert the words.

Formatting is the tricky bit, as you noticed, so one answer is to use Sibelius to print blank staves onto which you can then ‘graft’ nomenclature. The other option is to take an image of a free-to-copy version, cover the words with ’empty’ boxes and insert your own text over it.

And no – I adjusted the words myself. I’m used to reading, since my early training involved reading a lot of Liszt, Chopin, Debussy, Beethoven and Mozart piano stuff, so it’s pretty much second nature, now. And thanks. Much appreciated.

Member

Thanks for that Ian. Much as I expected and something for the future when the site develops further. I’m thinking of writing something for the Which choir, but doubt whether this will see the light of day this year. I have three verses and chorus penned ready.

Member

Some time ago I wrote a short anthology of “White Christmases”. They would be inappropriate here so I’ve spread them out in the Rhyming Room, for anyone who wants to read them. They were written after our choir had sung it to death at numerous concerts.

Member

I think a proper Christmas dinner can’t be without Sprouts, also it’s got to be turkey with pigs in blankets also.

Member

Agreed. For me, pigs in blankets make or break the Christmas dinner. In my house we don’t have turkey because I’m the only one that likes it, so I tend to have an unthinkable amount of turkey in the run-up to the 25th to make up for it.

Member

Sage & onion stuffing would be the meal-breaker for me.

Funny, Christmas is the only time we think of eating it.