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.
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.