AND SO THIS IS CHRIST­MAS

Four guest writ­ers share their thoughts on the silly sea­son

Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

The Ham takes up all the chilly bin while wa­ter bot­tles go warm in the car cup-hold­ers. Ir­ri­ta­tion grows. Ham sand­wich at road­side stop, any­one? No tak­ers.

The turkey gives you hot meat, cold meat and soup treats over a cou­ple of days and then po­litely dis­ap­pears. The Ham is the guest that far over­stays its wel­come.

There’s a say­ing that fish and vis­it­ing fam­ily start to smell af­ter four days. Add ham to that list.

It lit­er­ally does, and hav­ing to wash the clammy, smelly cot­ton bag it lives in, and re-treat it with vine­gar, adds de­spair to de­feat. Who could fancy ham af­ter chang­ing the dress­ings? Mean­while, The Ham hogs the en­tire fourth shelf in the fridge.

We re­spect food and don’t waste it in our fam­ily, and The Ham takes full ad­van­tage of this. I carve plates of thick slices off it as we try to eat our way out of the prob­lem. But days af­ter Christ­mas it still looks pink, smug and barely touched.

The slices get thicker and drier. Moist is now a mem­ory. Jan­uary ar­rives and the fi­nal card is played – fry­ing all ham. There’s a flicker of new en­thu­si­asm, but af­ter fried ham and eggs for break­fast, fried ham sand­wiches for lunch, fried ham and salad for din­ner, in­ter­est dies away.

About now a broader anti-ham feel­ing be­gins to arise from within the fam­ily. I nur­ture this care­fully, point­ing out how we can avoid be­ing held hostage like this next year if we de­cide not to have turkey AND ham.

The big hol­i­day de­par­ture day ar­rives and The Ham de­mands to go too. It has a good ar­gu­ment. Do we re­ally want to see what it has be­come in two weeks?

How­ever, its days are num­bered. It might think it­self part of the fam­ily, but trav­el­ling long dis­tances in a car is a true test of fam­ily com­mit­ment. The Ham takes up all the chilly bin while wa­ter bot­tles go warm in the car cup-hold­ers. Ir­ri­ta­tion grows. Ham sand­wich at road­side stop, any­one? No tak­ers.

Fi­nally The Ham’s pa­tron turns on it, and the end is sud­den and bru­tal. It might wake up in a camp­ing ground rub­bish bin, or “ac­ci­den­tally” be left at a re­la­tion’s place on an overnight stay.

Yet like Ground­hog Day, we are doomed to re­live this tale over and over. All I can think is that some­how the good and bad, sen­si­ble and in­com­pre­hen­si­ble all be­long in the ta­pes­try of fam­ily Christ­mas tra­di­tions.

Per­haps at some deep level we need The Ham. That be­ing the case, if B-grade sci-fi movie plots have taught me any­thing, the an­swer would be to em­brace The Ham, thereby break­ing the spell.

Maybe, maybe… nope. Not this Christ­mas. This Christ­mas we should just have turkey. Def­i­nitely just the turkey. Think of the food miles. *If you too have been se­duced by a ham that you can’t get rid of, check out Ginny Grant’s Chop Chop left­over spe­cial on page 26. *Christchurch-based Ewan Sar­gent is a se­nior re­porter in Fair­fax Me­dia’s life & style team.

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