Christmas feasting follow-up

Some days before Christmas, my wife Jan and I were discussing our feasting plans for the holidays. “How about something different?” she asked.

“Well, I think we’re always eating things that are somewhat different, from confit de canard to Indian curries to foie gras to blanquette de veau,” I said, “so how about something incredibly traditional instead?”

And so it was that we planned our big Christmas lunch to include a classic shrimp cocktail as the entrée, followed by the traditional roast-turkey-with-all-the-trimmings.

Here’s the shrimp cocktail, based on some lovely large shrimp that Jan bought from the seafood vendor at the nearby Cénac market:

Shrimp cocktail, with the traditional sauce.

Shrimp cocktail, with the traditional sauce.

To accompany the meal, we had a bottle of Champagne — namely, this one, which had been delivered to Daglan from Fauchon of Paris, as part of our Christmas gift from daughter Anne, son Mike and their partners:

Champagne, but of course!

Champagne, but of course!

As for the turkey, Jan had put a mixture of creamed butter and thyme under the skin, and stuffed the bird as well. It came out of the oven looking pretty good, with the meat nicely moist and the skin nicely browned. Here it is, before I started carving:

The star of the show, just before the carving.

The star of the show, just before the carving.

Along with the roast turkey, we had sliced brussels sprouts sautéed with lardons; a creamy casserole of turnip and sweet potatoes; and stuffing that included sausage and chestnuts. Because it proved impossible to find cranberry sauce (not exactly a French classic), we made do with red currant jelly.

And the verdict? All in all the meal was fine, and generally lived up to the standards for a traditional Canadian (or American or British) Christmas meal. But Jan and I both felt that it was actually somewhat ordinary, and not really worth all the fuss. To us it seemed something like comfort food, that is tasty and (certainly) filling, but not very memorable.

But today was different. With the remaining turkey meat, Jan made a Kashmiri  curry   with green beans and  a rich  red yoghurt-based sauce, served over steamed rice, and accompanied by mango chutney. Now that was special!

This entry was posted in Food, French food, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Christmas feasting follow-up

  1. D2 says:

    The leftovers are so good that you should cook the Christmas meal and just keep it until the following day. Happy Holidays to you both.

    • loren24250 says:

      Ha! I agree, D2! One of my all-time favourite sandwiches, for instance, is sliced turkey on light rye bread, with just a touch of mayonnaise and a blob of cranberry sauce. Usually it’s better than the turkey on the lunch or dinner plate! (Although I think the sandwich is even better if made with smoked turkey meat.) Happy New Year and thanks for all your comments through 2014.

  2. Lesley says:

    Boxing Day, the 26th, lunch has been cold meat and piping hot fried up leftover vegetables as Bubble and Squeek. Sometimes you have to cook fresh veg. to make the leftovers. It’s always a more relaxing day for the cook and my Grandmother, Mother and now I have always served it. This is when the pickles, especially picalilli and red cabbage, come to the plate.

  3. Robin says:

    Thanks for the descriptions! I know what you mean about the challenges of an Americas traditional comfort meal in a foreign land. I recently held an American Thanksgiving dinner party for friends in South Africa, and discovered the logistical hurdles firsthand. No BIG turkeys to be had, no free range, so purchased extra turkey breasts for the overall amount I needed. All turkey imported (choices I found were from Brazil or the U.S.). Cranberries from one store only, imported and frozen, because you GOTTA have cranberry sauce with turkey dinner! No orange Hallowe’en-type pumpkin to be found, no cans of solid pack pumpkin, so a green Hubbard squash did the trick. No ready-to-unroll pie crusts anywhere (yes, I’d considered it!), so I made my own. Couldn’t locate any peppers like Anaheims or poblanos in the entire city, so my plans for sour cream chile cornbread were dashed. The sweet potatoes I bought weren’t sweet at all – really a different breed – but luckily one attendee promised success with a candied sweet potato dish she brought. Then, last but not least, on the day I was having 14 people over to my friend’s house, there was an unplanned power outage (as opposed to the tremendously inconvenient planned ones throughout the country), so I had to be shuttled to a friend’s house miles away to cook the bird and stuffing. Hours later I returned to finalize the party while that fabulous friend delivered the finished turkey, gravy and stuffing later. Friends bringing other dishes brought flashlights, headlamps, candles and camping stoves. Power came on at dusk – after 6 hours – just as we had all the candles lit, ready to dine. It was beautiful, and we all enjoyed two Garrison Keillor Thanksgiving stories from his Prairie Home Companion radio show. We really earned that dinner!

  4. Gaynor Black says:

    Feliz Navidad Loren and Jan! It does look lovely in the photos. I’d say whatever you decide on for next year, the champagne is a keeper. We took a long walk along the beach, had cocktails on a terraza overlooking the port, a movie and a pizza — so nothing traditional or even christmassy there but the day was 18 degrees and extremely sunny. All the very best for 2015 and big hugs fom Málaga!

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