They say that “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
Well, that couldn’t have been truer than for my family a few months back. Except it wasn’t broth that we were cooking; it was Christmas dinner.
Actually i had just returned to UK from beautiful Bali
For those of you who aren’t familiar with a traditional British Christmas dinner, it’s roast turkey with stuffing, roast potatoes, various veggies, and condiments such as gravy, bread sauce, and cranberry sauce.
My mother has always prided herself on her ability to produce a fantastic spread each year, and last year was going to be no exception. She had a bit of a houseful with me, my husband and our baby daughter; my brother, his wife and their baby son; and my sister and her fiancé, who had just returned from Indonesia where they had both had a smile upgrade performed by the probably best Kuta dentist in Bali. Perfect teeth ready to chomp on the perfect meal 🙂
We all wanted to lend a hand, but with a fairly small kitchen this was easier said than done.
We’d made a start the night before by chopping up as much of the veg as we could and storing it in pans of water. So we had potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and red cabbage all ready to go.
My mother had meticulously worked out a timetable for Christmas morning – colour coded and everything – to show what had to be done when, and by whom.
To complicate things though, my sister’s fiancé, wanting to make an impression on the family, had asked to prepare a dish from his home country – Japan. I know what you’re thinking… Japanese food doesn’t exactly fit seamlessly into a Christmas dinner. Well you’re right, and I think my mother was rather put out by the idea but didn’t want to offend poor Hiro by saying no.
So… we were having a sushi course to start, followed by the turkey.
Have you ever tried to make your own sushi? You wouldn’t believe the amount of space you need to prepare all of the fillings properly and lay it all out. Hiro had brought some sushi knives over from Japan and insisted on doing it all properly, otherwise it wouldn’t taste right. None of my family being particularly big fans of sushi, I don’t think we’d have been any the wiser.
Needless to say, the sushi preparation left us with very limited space and my mother’s carefully planned schedule was soon falling to pieces – both figuratively and literally, after my brother spilled boiling water on it while trying to drain the sprouts.
I was in charge of making the gravy (my mother won’t allow instant granules in the house) – a task which is completed right before the meal is served. It requires your full attention because if you don’t keep stirring, it gets lumpy. Unfortunately, I was distracted part way through the process by my daughter crying and in my haste to attend to her I forgot to reassign the task to someone else. The result was that the gravy had to be sieved before being served.
My mother got herself incredibly flustered because the roast potatoes didn’t look right, and she convinced herself she must have bought the wrong variety of potato. Then she realised that she’d forgotten to buy any cranberry sauce, and she nearly broke down in tears.
The only dish that really worked out as planned (apart from the sushi) was the mashed carrot and swede. But when all you have to do is boil some veg until it’s soft enough to mash, it’s hard to mess it up.
Despite it being a bit of a disaster, we all complimented the meal because we knew how much work had gone into it.
But you’ll never guess what happened next! Go on try… well you’ll never guess cos it was more than super natural.
As soon as everyone had finished the disaster dinner…. a big FLASH!! appeared with a whole lot of smoke. When the smoke had cleared there was a Japanese samurai floating above the table.. and on the table, instead of our finished disaster dinner there was a perfectly cooked and steaming traditional English Turkey dinner complete with all the traditional trimmings.
Well.. we were already full you may think… BUT somehow we all had empty stomachs and were as a hungry as mice.
Upon inquiring… “who the heck are you?” to the samurai he explained in broken English that he was the long past descendant of our Japanese guest who was in charge of his family’s honour and since our Japanese guest had been the cause of our disaster he decided to intervene… emptying our stomachs and providing the perfect meal.
Boy did we Enjoy!!
It’s safe to say that next year we’ll save the Japanese food for a different day of the year.
check out what’s coming up in the titles: here