Christmas Food

golombki3No, not the traditional turkey, goose, chicken, beef or pork. A pot full of golabki is one of the dishes we will be eating this Christmas Eve.

Because of my Polish family, my children were brought up celebrating both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Which meant cooking two different meals.

On the night before Christmas we laid the table, putting wisps of hay, or straw under the cloth to remind us of Jesus in the manger. Then the youngest was set to look out for the first star, or that at least was the theory and it did give the kids something to do.

Once the star was sighted then Christmas could begin. First the baby Jesus was put in our homemade crib, then came the distribution of the oplatek. The thin wafer, like communion bread, that in those days was sent to us by our family in Poland. Each person took a piece and shared it with all the others, kissing them and wishing them a happy Christmas.

After that it was presents under the Christmas tree and finally when all the wrapping paper had been cleared up, the food.

Twelve different dishes, one for each of the disciples was the tradition. Some were British, like salad, or cooked chicken, others Polish like the pot full of cabbage wrapped parcels above.

Because there was so much to do and a lot of it was very time consuming, I always made these beforehand and put them in the freezer. Over the past few years my daughter Lucy has taken on this role,  but with a very new baby, she has more than enough to do, so once again I was in the kitchen first thing this morning, blanching cabbage leaves, frying onions and mixing them together with rice and minced pork, seasoning and herbs. Then the golombki are layered into a casserole and I pour over a mixture of Heinz tomato soup, water, stock and tomato puree. Over the years we have evolved a truly fusion cuisine.

Everything goes into the oven for about an hour, or so while I tidy up and remember all those long gone Christmases and speculate whether my grandchildren will in years to come be wrapping cabbage leaves around handfuls of pork mixture and thinking back to their childhood.

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