If there's one thing I love, it's having guests. Every year around this time, I start getting an urge to organize dinner parties and holiday celebrations, test new recipes on my friends and just enjoy time with them over a glass of wine.
Because there's something about this season that makes us want to stay inside, light up our evenings with candles and decorations, and share the joys of food with others. And it's not just the countdown to the holidays that makes us want to share. It is this physiological feeling of anticipation caused by the run-up to the darkest week of the year, the last week of December. This is probably why most cultures of the past had important celebrations around the winter solstice. Germanic and Celtic tribes had Yule, while the Romans had their Saturnalia, a series of celebrations which included a day of gift-giving and which, according to some, were later Christianized to correspond with the nativity.
So here I am, making a list of friends to invite this month, and a list of ingredients to experiment with. If you are thinking of doing the same, I recommend a visit to Marheineke Markthalle in Bergmannstraße for some of the best food products and edible gifts in town, or visit any Christmas market (p. 10) for festive delights. And if you are looking to refurbish your table settings, turn to p. 20 for Annabelle Mallia's recommendations.