Thursday, 4 December 2008

Christmas delights.

The first time I tried Lebkuchen, it was from a small bakery in Ruislip, on the High Street, owned by an Austrian couple. It was so yummy, the mere thought of it is making my mouth water. The offerings in the photograph aren't anywhere near as good... they have a sell-by date for next year, whereas the freshly-baked ones had to be eaten soon... Very Soon I said! They crumbled in the mouth, the taste was gorgeous.. these are a bit dry and have an artificial taste to them, but in the absence of an Austrian bakery and freshly made ones, they 'will do'.

They are part of my Christmas treats, delights that I always associate with this time of year. The gorgeous smells from the kitchen of home made whisky mincemeat and sloe gin. Of oranges starred with cloves to hang in the porch. Of fresh greenery from the garden to entwine with scarlet ribbons, lay across the mantlepiece of both our fireplaces, interspersed with fat ivory candles. Of dried apple rings and burning apple logs.

The tastes evocative of Christmas for me include roasted chestnuts, home made parsnip crisps and spiced nuts for nibbles, Christmas cake with Wensleydale cheese, violet and rose creams, a box of handmade chocolates, Bendicks mints. REAL Turkish delight... not the chocolate covered apology for the stuff. I had an aunt who could eat the real Turkish Delight by the box, stuffing one piece in after another.. so fond was she of this that she had a box for her and a box for visitors. She and I never really got on, she was a Lady Bracknell type of woman who looked down her nose at me and most other members of the family. To be honest, although I have bought a wooden box of real turkish delight for the first time this year, I am not sure if I really like it - but the box is very pretty!

Sights to delight include a real Christmas tree... we have a slow growing one in a large pot in the garden, which lives out of sight of the house for eleven months of the year, then we wheel it up to the patio, string fairy lights on it and go 'Aah' every time, even though it looks the same, just maybe a little bit bigger. I am always enchanted by houses with fairy lights around the doors, the eaves, windows and trees. And indeed I am one of those sad people who loves to go out in the car in the evening to nose at people's houses, see their decorations, act appalled at the OTT-ness, the tackiness of some houses full of dangly bits from ceilings, walls festooned with garlands, trees weighed down with baubles, every available surface covered by nativity scenes, snow globes, figurines and so on. Their gardens too, often full of lit-up reindeer, Santas, elves and snowmen.

Then we sigh with delight at the classiness of the 'less is more' brigade, with just a one-colour themed tree on display in a window, a simple wreath on the door, a few lights around a tree in the garden perhaps. We just string lights along a hedge dividing the garden in two, around a couple of holly trees and along the eaves of the summerhouse. Sometimes I make a ball of lights, by fastening together two wire hanging baskets, stuffing it with greenery from the garden, nicking bits of cut-off Christmas trees from the local garden centre, those bits they're not going to make into wreaths and charge a fiver for, and then fill it with fairy lights. I hang it by the front porch where it gets many an admiring glance, and it's the only one on the street. This year it will be a simple row of lights around the inner front door, and a country style wreath, which against the cheery red door looks very pretty and well... Christmassy!


Mid Life Hopes said...

All of your treats sound so lovely!
I love the smells of christmas.
I love the season.
I love the reason.
xoxo :)

LittleBrownDog said...

Lovely, PFG! I like to think I'm one of the less is more brigade. I put off getting the Christmas decs out until the last possible moment, and when I do, you hardly notice them. Will be getting a tree this year, though.

Milla said...

those Eat Now biscuits sound like some delicious ones my brother brought over from Paris recently. My mouth is watering at the memory. All different, all, literally melt in the mouth but with a tiny crunch and a subtle cream center. Ah me. Yuk to Turkish delight, though, whether teh real or the apologetic version. Fudge for me, yum yum. (have caught up on a few of your blgos, and left another comment lower down)

Anonymous said...

You're making my mouth water too! You have to eat them now.

I love to see other people's decorations. I can't say I'm too keen on all the glitz hung on the outside of houses but I love a well lit tree and lots of beautiful ornaments. We put ours up yesterday.

CJ xx

Calico Kate said...

Lovely words PFG, really stirs Christmas feelings, and foods! I'm with you on the elegant and simple, but NOT in anyway the turkish delight.
We have new people in a house in the village and the show that they have put up is ghastly, totally over shadows the pubs lights and is the first house you see as you come in to the village. Aaagghhh!!
Love the idea of the two hanging baskets ball, do you mind if I nick it?!

Pondside said...

I'll join in with the less is more - but sometimes that's just the result of running out of time! Your ball of light sounds like a great idea - picture?

Cait O'Connor said...

You have very nearly converted me!

JoeinVegas said...

The west coast US theme for Christmas is competition: who can put the most twinkly lights on the front of their house, and how many inflatable thingies on the front lawn. We just go for a lighted wreath and a string of lights around the front door.
Will you be baking the biscuits this year? I'm up for a day of baking ours on Saturday.