For boring technical reasons to do with him predating the birth of Jesus by about 13 centuries, and being really quite Jewish, Moses was never in a position to lay down the law where Christmas is concerned. This strikes me as a terrible omission because God knows we could all do with the help. But do not fear. Having last year formulated 10 general food commandments, I feel uniquely placed to have a crack at 10 for Christmas. You can ignore them if you like, but on your own head be it.
One Thou shalt not mistake Nigella, Mary and Jamie for the Lord, thy God. Those Christmas specials are only TV programmes. They’re entertainment, not a blueprint for how your Christmas is meant to be. Yours won’t be anything like that because you don’t have battalions of home economists to knock up the food and set designers to decorate the house. Even Nigella’s won’t be like that.
Two Thou shalt not always make your own. There is no shame in buying ready-made bread sauce or mince pies. That’s why supermarket new product development units were invented.
Three If you’re the cook on Christmas Day thou shalt have first crack at the sausages and bacon as they come out of the oven.
Four Thou shalt not feel compelled to make every side dish ever invented. Roast potatoes, and one other vegetable, two at a push. No more. What are you trying to prove? That you’re a whizz at Oven Tetris? No one will judge you. As long as there’s gravy everything will be fine. (This last rule applies all year round.)
Five Thou shalt not wear a stupid hat during lunch if thou doesn’t want to. Even if the children whine at you for being a spoilsport. Children need to learn that one of the pleasures of adulthood is not having to do stupid things.
Six Thou shalt not serve Christmas pudding, at least not on Christmas Day. Nobody likes it. And even if they do, by the time you get to dessert at Christmas lunch nobody has any space. All they want is jelly. Make jelly and if anyone complains, tell them Moses made you. If you must serve Christmas pudding, wait until the week between Christmas and New Year, buy it up cheap, steam it, then fry it in bacon fat. You’ll thank me. I’m a biblical prophet; I know what I’m talking about.
Seven Thou shalt eat trifle for breakfast on Boxing Day. It’s Christmas. The usual rules do not apply.
Eight Thou shalt not be embarrassed about making exactly the same things from leftovers as you always do. Yes, your turkey curry is awful. It’s always been awful. But tradition is important and your awful turkey curry is one of them. Stop trying to re-invent the wheel. Though don’t make that turkey risotto thing with the frozen peas again. That really is a crime against food.
Nine Thou shalt drink Bailey’s, though only at this time of year. Drinking it at any other time of year marks you out as having the palate of a seven-year-old. Drinking it at Christmas defines you as sweet and sentimental.
And finally, ten Thou shalt have a meltdown if thou wants to. In theory Christmas is a delightful festival, a time to draw near to your loved ones. In practice it’s a bloody nightmare, a breeding ground for recrimination and, eventually, divorce. Far better to get it all out there. Other than that, it’s peace and goodwill all the way. Merry Christmas everyone. And you’re welcome.
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