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A Christmas Challenge

After the ethnic eating experiment and the raw vegan challenges, it seemed only right to celebrate my virtual move to the infinitely more snazzy wordpress by opening the floor once more to your cruelest and most venomous of gastronomic gauntlets. This time, however, I’m not the only one who might suffer. That would be far too self-sacrificing. No, Christmas is, after all, a season for family time, and so I’ve decided to inflict my next experiment on all of them too.

I say ‘inflict’; but I trust you, readers, to deliver. Because this challenge is all about trust. I want you to send me your favourite Christmas recipes, and the winners (hopefully the most bizarre ones) will be fed to my parents, siblings, cousins and, of course, my amateur food critic of a grandmother, on Christmas Day. It’s a risky venture. There are things that will most definitely be expected – Grandpa will expect sprouts cooked to buggery, the cousins curried leeks, Grannie mince pies and brandy butter. These must be consumed and held down by 3pm, when the family sit down for the Queen’s speech, which is watched with subtitles as my grandfather bellows at the TV for not being loud enough, his renegade hearing aids squealing like a broken kettle as he tries to turn them up.

It’s time for a change. Last year the attempt at change was somewhat more extreme – dinner was suggested instead of lunch, and there was mutiny afoot in the octogenarian camp. So, Grannie, if you’re reading – I promise we will eat at 1.30pm, as always, and you can most certainly bring your famous mince pies and Christmas pudding, but other than that I’m leaving our lunch in the capable hands of the readers. I bet they’re a damn sight better than Gordon Ramsay.

So come on people – help to christen this new site by firing me your favourite Christmas recipes; Mum is on board, and between us we’ll do as many of them as we can, and film Grannie’s reaction. Send me an email or write recipes in the comment box.

Meanwhile, I want to know your favourite veggie accompaniments – vote in the poll below (mine, for the record, is my maternal grandmother’s creamed corn – recipe to come).


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Ladies and jellyspoons, I give you…The Larder Lout

Oh how I abhor the stereotyping of students – slobbish ne’er-do-wells with government loans, unwashed clothes, several days’ stubble and an alcohol problem. Fie on you nay sayers, you! The vast majority of my fellow students are civilised, cultured and diligent. But my God do they eat some absolute slurry. Before I continue, and hopefully before you close this blog, I will say this, however – there will absolutely not be any food snobbery in this blog whatsoever. When I say ‘slurry’ I mean only that I don’t consider a take-away pizza or microwave chicken kiev a suitable supper for a student (you know who you are), the first being uneconomical and greasy, the second quite a health risk. No, there will be no snobbery here. All there will be is delicious recipes made with good ingredients.

In our house in Bristol last year the five of us ate together pretty much every night – certainly whoever was around would eat together, and it meant that by the end of that year we felt like a family. Food is such an intimate thing, that feeding someone and watching them enjoy it is a real pleasure. I am also convinced that we spent less money than others who didn’t cook every night. Good food isn’t expensive. Take-aways are.

In an ideal world you should buy organic produce wherever possible. However, I think that much more important than organic produce is that it is local produce. There are environmental implications to eating basil that has been flown over from Israel, or beans from Brazil, but there are gastronomic implications also. A vegetable that comes from soil near to where you’re eating it will have grown in the same environment in which you live, breathed the same air you breath, been quenched by the same water you drink. It will taste infinitely better than one that has grown in foreign soils, been sprayed to keep it fresh, packed onto a ship and crossed oceans and time zones. The day you eat a potato that you have dug out of the soil an hour before is the day you eat perfection.
So, here I am, taking a hammer to the public perception of students as kebab-munching, beer-swilling lager louts…I am the Larder Lout.

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