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:
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:
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:
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!