The best thing about “The Christmas” is not the arrival of a baby Jesus, nor the Santa toys or putting up the Christmas tree, it’s the big feed.
Christmas dinner is like going out to a restaurant for a meal, but instead you stay at home and try to emulate that “hoity-toity” feeling in the comfort of your own house (unless you are wile, wile posh and have an actual dining room).
Here are our top tips for the perfect Donegal Christmas Dinner, ya big greedy lookin’ wastard ya!
1. The only Christmas starters you need?
Most people nowadays have a starter, which can be a Prawn Cocktail (“Phrawn” to Donegal people) or Egg Mayonnaise. Prawns should be the wee ones you get frozen in a packet at the supermarket, never ever fresh prawns. Nobody wants a prawn’s face gawking up at them from their starter. On the sauce for the top, mix tomato ketchup (or red sauce in Donegal) with mayonnaise to get that “Marie Rose Sauce” effect. If you’re sprinkling paprika on the top, you should be on Masterchef.
2. AND soup as well?!!
You can make a soup as well but remember, people will be wile full going into the main dinner event if there’s soup taken too and might only be able to manage one and a half platefuls of Christmas dinner, as opposed to two or four.
3. Table decoration?
Place “the good cloth” on the table, with a bit of luck there’ll be no stains from last year’s dinner on it. Christmas Crackers can be used too, be sure to dispose of the plastic shite you get in them afterwards. The paper hats are fun (for about 20 seconds, at which point they give you a sweaty, itchy forehead). You can put a candle or two on the table as well (helps with easy lighting up of fags and cigars); don’t bother with a fancy “centrepiece” decoration, it gets removed by one of the frantic servers anyway once things get going and nobody will appreciate the effort you spent making it.
4. Which way does the spoon point?
The fork goes on the left, the knife on the right, the dessert spoon goes in the middle across the top (pointing left or right, nobody knows exactly). If you have that soup course, put the soup spoon beside either the knife or the fork (doesn’t matter which as your sister will have to wash them after each course anyway). If you’re serving soup rolls, the side plate goes on the left, unless it’s a corner seat – at which point, the person sitting there will move the side plate to their opposite side saying “that’s your wan there” to the person on either their right or left (probably both).
5. That folded napkin looks rubbish
Don’t try and fold the napkin into a fancy shape, you’re not from Japan. If you have Daniel O’Donnell napkins, you’re doing better than most. Some of you can do a “Bishop’s hat” shape, but nobody wants to be looking at the likes of that any more. Just place your napkin in the middle of each setting, between the knife and the fork. You can also roll it up and put it into the wine glass, just remember to take it out before you pour the wine, though some will drink their wine from the glass, napkin or no napkin.
6. Get out the fancy china
Time to wheel out the best plates and bowls from the back of the press. That’s if your ‘aul doll hasn’t already made the trip to England to flog the lot on the Antiques Roadshow. Most families will have the Chinese Willow pattern (these make good serving plates); and maybe one or two sets of “fine china”, all the way from Taiwan. Very often, as families expand with in-laws and weddings, there won’t be enough of the fine china to go around everybody. Fear not, you can use one of your everyday plates, just make sure it’s the plainest one you can find so it blends in. This also applies to glasses, for at every Christmas table, most adults will be drinking wine from wine glasses, though there’s always one left drinking it from a Thomas the Tank Engine plastic blue beaker.
Don’t put the we’ans sitting at the table, they’re too wee to pay attention to the prolonged dinner experience. Give them a tiny bit of turkey beforehand then plonk them in front of the telly. They’ll be happy, you’ll be happy and your wile fancy china will be happy.
Turkey MUST be gently laid over a ball or mound of stuffing, which rests on a slice of the ham up to ten centimetres thick. Some families will try fancy “deconstruction” methods, where the turkey will be cut into thin strips and placed neatly from the centre of the plate to its circumference – but as we know, the primary unit of Christmas dinner should be a “heap”, otherwise you must be foreign, or worse, a protestant.
Most people will go “oh I can’t have my dessert yet, I need to let my food settle”. Then after waiting 2-3 minutes, they load their dessert bowl up with pudding, trifle, pavlova, ice-cream, cream and in most cases, ‘Vienetta’. If you need to make room for this feast of dessert, we recommend liquidising the contents of your dessert bowl and making yourself your very own ‘Christmas Dessert Smoothie’. Not only will your body digest it quicker, but it could also save you dirtying your dessert spoon, reducing the amount of washing up that needs to be done. Disposable straws are available from most supermarkets.
10. The Christmas Leftover Sandwich
Please wait at least one hour (or obligatory depressing, Christmas-special of EastEnders) before making The Christmas Dinner Leftover Sandwiches. Be honest about what you put in these. Rather than downplaying them by going “oh they’re only sandwiches with a bit of turkey”, list all of the contents, the turkey, the ham, stuffing, sliced Brussel Sprout, mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, cheese… and a crushed packet of Tayto crisps on top.
So there you have it folks, that’s just some of the advice we can offer you for this year’s Christmas dinner. Always remember, if your stomach is not aching like it’s about to explode, expelling the entire food contents you’ve eaten over the past year, you haven’t eaten enough and should load that plate up for seconds and thirds as fast as you can.
Enjoy food sensibly!