HOGGING THE LIME­LIGHT

EWAN SAR­GENT sets out his man­i­festo for a turkey-only Christ­mas, one free of the porcine guest des­tined al­ways to over­stay its wel­come.

Cuisine - - FESTIVE SPECIAL -

I’M A TURKEY MAN. I cook the turkey. The great­est mo­ment of the whole Christ­mas fam­ily cel­e­bra­tion should be when I place the turkey on the din­ner ta­ble and ev­ery­one in uni­son says “that looks amaz­ing”.

So much has gone into that mo­ment. Days of brin­ing, bast­ing and care­ful tem­per­a­ture jug­gling have cre­ated an evenly crisp-skinned yet ten­der turkey. So many se­cret tricks lie be­hind it all. I want that mo­ment.

And yet my neme­sis, The Ham, will gate­crash Christ­mas once again. It will al­ready be on the ta­ble. “Tha loofs am­agh­ing,” the guests will mum­ble at the turkey through mouths full of moist ham.

Bloody ham. I’ve ar­gued for years we don’t need turkey AND ham. The ar­gu­ment has be­come fam­ily tra­di­tion and ev­ery­one knows Christ­mas is com­ing when I start the “turkey only” cam­paign: We don’t need that much food. How about a mid­win­ter ham in­stead? Think of the starv­ing chil­dren. It’s un­fair on the turkey. Isn’t ham car­cino­genic? And this year – what about the food miles from Spain where The Ham was last at­tached to a pig?

But The Ham has pow­er­ful friends in high places. I need to be care­ful what I say here, but there are peo­ple who see The Ham as their own mo­ment. They cut off the plas­tic, get me to peel off the skin (too yucky a job for them, ap­par­ently), slap some mar­malade and cloves on it, bake it, and then think they have achieved the equiv­a­lent of the turkey ef­fort. Such false equiv­a­lence.

Yes, I’m bit­ter be­cause I also know what comes later.

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