Sunday, December 5

How to spend Christmas in the time of the coronavirus | Food

WWho are you going to bubble with What homes will you choose? At Christmas, I mean. It is very difficult. I don’t know about you, but if my parents, brothers, nieces, nephews, and several in-laws went for a walk en masse, it would probably be possible to see us from outer space. Like many modern families, that is, most normal families, this is not just a question of generational expansion. No, it is much more complex than that. As I like to tell people I just met, I have two existing stepmothers – which is bad of me, because there are no dead. Far as I know.

The goal of this column is not family life and how to survive it. The point is to consider what Christmas will be like this year and how to survive it. My hunch is that whatever the rules, for all of us it will be sadly diminished: fewer people, fewer trips, no parties. And although this may not be ideal, I also want to say that if there is one thing life has taught me, it is that it is not as difficult as you imagine to make sure that small is beautiful. It definitely wasn’t much fun when the various sadists I worked for in my 20s used to insist for no good reason that I had to be at the office on Boxing Day (an edict that made it impossible for me to travel north). Even then, however, he was an expert in bijou ceremonies that can help a person get through a gloomy day. If I were going to eat a leftover egg roll for my Christmas lunch, I’d at least wash it off with something fizzy (and I don’t mean Sprite). Looking back, some of the most delicious things I’ve eaten at Christmas: a coronation chicken sandwich in a nearly empty airport; a piece of my mother’s marzipan cake from a tin at the end of a long shift – teased in the loneliest of circumstances, the fun happening elsewhere, the warmth and light flickering only in my mind’s eye.

Remember this: it’s only a day (or two). The trick is to shrink it in your mind, make it as weightless and inconsequential as the wings of a fairy on a tree, and then, appropriately reduced, fill it, as far as possible, with all the things you want. I really like it (unlike all the things you are supposed to like). There is no law that says lunch should be round at the Cratchit house, the sauce hissing hot and Master Peter pounding the potatoes with incredible vigor; cheesy TV commercials are even more fake than usual this year. For one person or two, I love the idea of ​​lobster for Christmas lunch, or failing that, a bowl of truffle tagliatelle – I like a brand that can be bought online called Tartufissima No 19 – dressed just with olive oil and lots of grated Parmesan. But you know, sausage and mash would do just as well. For the pudding I prefer the cheapest, inauthentic Turkish delight you can buy, all kinds of licorice, and if I can get them, calissons d’Aix, those lovely almond sweets that make me think of yellow painted houses and tall pines . trees

Maybe that’s what Christmas is all about this year: looking closely into the future. Although I am not a natural writer of Hallmark-style aphorisms, as I have said so many times before, cooking for someone is an expression of love to me; a hug with any other name. I’ve felt it since I was a kid (here we go, back to my complicated family). But as I also keep telling myself lately, love is still there, even if they can’t be in the room together. We are connected to those we care about in a thousand ways, invisible threads that we will have reason to remember every time we take a Matchmaker coffee out of the box, or fight a satsuma, or worry about what to do with whatever is left over. sauce. As long as I eat my Christmas breakfast of anchovies on toast, yes, really! Why not? My mind will spiral hotly into spring, and into summer beyond. There will be other years. There will be next year.

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