The Field

Bearing gifts to savour

From edible treats to thank your host to store cupboard essentials that’ll liven up festive menus, here are our favourite foods to feast on

- compiled BY alexandra henton & sarah pratley ♦ studio photograph­y BY andrew sydenham

Edible treats rounded up by Alexandra Henton and Sarah Pratley

Rising to the top of the list of good house guests requires only simple steps. Be good company, muck in, write your thank yous and don’t fall out with your fellow denizens over Brexit, hunting or how to raise the smalls. When it comes to the festive house party, mulled wine can fuel festering familial feuds (one jolly good reason to steer clear, try mulled cider instead). But arrive with a truly useful offering and you are the balm of Gilead poured over fractious festive woes.

When the house party is set to be big, busy or both, the good house guest tips up

with something practical, delicious and useful. No running for vases, no wine that jars with the host’s cellar. Keep it simple and keep it useful, and make your hostess’s life an easy one.

If bearing bottles, stick to the pre-prandial or after-dinner; a magnum of British fizz, a useful amount of flavoured gin or a well-respected port and brandy. If taking food, the bigger the better. Think truckles of cheese, a joint of ham or a bumper box of chocolates. A festive cake is always useful to hand out at the Boxing Day meet, shoot elevenses or to satisfy the carol singers. The addition of something playful for attendant smalls won’t go amiss, and a hamper full of

goodies (just not the festive tea or a pudding please) is bound to hit the good guest spot.

On a more practical note, replenishi­ng the store cupboard with appropriat­e comestible­s to see you through the party season is a most useful gift (from a house guest or to yourself). We suggest good oil in ready-infused flavours, chutneys, pickles and relishes with a difference, curry sauces are a delight for either side of the Big Day, and ready-made game pâté makes the perfect canapés when smeared onto croutes. Useful jars of breakfast jam and something sweet that transforms into a pudding when plonked onto the table before Midnight Mass is a cure all.

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