Christmas and the holiday season is the time we all get into our time machines.
For most of us, it is about hitting the rewind button, revisiting memories from our childhood. I remember the huge, colourful foldable star lantern that would be taken out carefully from its tissue wraps inside the tin trunk for Christmas decorations, and fitted with a bulb every year, 2 weeks before Christmas. In hostel, there were the gift boxes that would arrive for all the excited dorm girls, eager fingers tearing apart bright packages to reveal beautiful dresses, snow globes, jewellery and photo frames, or tuck boxes full of cheeses, chocolates, marzipans and fudges, sent by relatives in distant cold countries. For us sisters, it would be a large, beautifully decorated, home-baked cake by Mom, in a plump little red leather box, that would get hand delivered straight from the home kitchen many thousand miles away, still smelling of home…
For Swedish Consul General in Mumbai, Frederika Ornbrant, a wonderful cook, a great story-teller, and a precious friend, Christmas meant a jar of Pickled Herring from her grandma’s home. Her grandma would make these deliciously fragrant jars every year, working hard at selecting the ingredients, diligently following her own secret recipe and bottling copious amounts of love into those things before sending them out to the family members. Fredrika tried hard, very hard, first to get the recipe from her grandma, and then to replicate that taste. Her pickled herrings are good, she says, but never good enough!
Decorating the Christmas tree together, jumping out of bed on Christmas morning to see what Santa has left for you in your red stocking hanging enticingly at the corner of your bed, large family lunches with tables full of the best roasts and gravies and puddings ever, reunions with cousins and whispered sharings of secret crushes, and the ever present aroma of baking hanging thickly in the cold winter air…
These are snapshots that most of us will revisit on our time machine, aren’t they? But Christmas is not only about going back in time, but also creating newer memories today, that you can look back on tomorrow. In my ‘present’ mode on the time machine, I know some memories will stand out in years to come. Like my late grandma’s last Christmas where she sat, small, wrinkled and beaming, outshining our big, bright Christmas tree, as she personally plucked out gifts from the tree, and handed them to our eagerly waiting group of a dozen cousins.
Or walking through the Christmas Market in the old and prestigious city of Oxford, sipping on hot German mulled wine and watching a large group of elderly locals belting out Christmas carols in the English rain!
And that’s why the last day of the year is always special. Because the beauty of the many amazing food memories from the year gone by, and the excitement and eagerness of creating many more new and special memories in the year to come, fills you with a sense of purpose and propels you like a happily fed, roly-poly rocket into the infinite food galaxy!
Here’s wishing each one of you a new year full of amazing foodie discoveries, heart-warming food epiphanies, bold food adventures and a path strewn with every big and little food wish fulfilled!