… that I love about family Christmas in Amsterdam.
Except unlike two years ago this time my 12 things are all food-related. We all know that gluttony is the true meaning of Christmas.
- Warm crusty apple cake and Chocomelk from Café Winkel 43, eaten huddled outside six-to-a-bench with a 1:1 ratio of heavy whipped cream.
- A table creaking with cheeses lugged from York, from the lauded Comté to the maligned smoked goat. The apple of everyone’s eye is the cake of stilton, which we scrape onto Bath Ovals, smear across bread layered with crystallized salted butter, and melt into turkey stock for soup so rich it is served it only by the teacup.
- Christmas morning smoked salmon posted all the way from Scotland, with steaming peppery scrambled eggs, toasted loaves and a glass of bitty Bucksfizz.
- Brussel sprouts with outer leaves haphazardly peeled by the younger generation, with many sacrificed beneath kitchen cabinets in Brussel Sprout Basketball. Made palatable to the vegetable-averse by a favourable ratio of fried pancetta and flaked glazed chestnuts.
- My mother’s incomparable bread sauce. Dripped over turkey, mashed into crispy potatoes and furtively consumed by the teaspoon straight from the jug.
- Flaming brandy-soaked Christmas pud, moist and flavoursome and, best of all, microwavable.
- Spoonfuls of wibbly wobbly pink jelly with double cream and much debate over structural integrity. (Does it stay in the dish when you turn it upside down? How is the wobble to firmness ratio? Did you eat too many jelly pieces at the watering stage?)
- Tiny(ish) tumblers of Irish Bailies tinkling with arrow-shaped ice cubes and accompanied by thick peppermint creams and hard-won segments of Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
- Home-made pork pie with a thick, asymmetrical crust and ornamental pastry pig, filled with fistfuls of herbs and a generous amounts of jelly.
- A deep bowl of trifle with creamy custard from the Dutch dairy shop and a welcome upper crunch of crushed almonds – as well as a less welcome one at the bottom born from our impatience to wait long enough for the sponge lady fingers to soften in madeira. Gone within five ladlefuls.
- A Boxing Day dish of baked red peppers, swimming in oil and stuffed with a garlic clove each.
- Fruity Christmas cake cloaked in the softest whitest marzipan icing of any year yet.