As I sit here, with a peel-off mask on my face and tying loose ends on the errands side with the Hop movie in the background, I can’t help thinking back on this past Christmas holiday.
The shops are getting ready for the Easter Fever, but I still feel a bit of the Christmas nostalgia lingering in the air.
Before I moved to the UK, I could not get my head around a cold, frosty, white Christmas. I didn’t understand the culture of having a Christmas jumper, as we would die of heat exhaustion if it were to ever take off in South Africa! The idea of eating a hot roast dinner would make me feel uncomfortably warm just thinking about it and opening presents on Christmas morning? What an outrage!
This year I am celebrating my 10-year anniversary of being a Londoner and I have come to love both cultures. I am fortunate enough to be part of two very different and distinct cultures and I am so glad to say that I can incorporate both into my being.
This past holiday my husband and I had gone home to experience another hot, sunny Christmas in South Africa.
As usual, my parents leave no stone unturned when it comes to entertaining their guests. From the little gifts on our beds (chocolates, magazines and toiletries) to literally all the comfort food my little heart desires.
On Christmas eve and Christmas day this was no different…
On Christmas Eve I wanted to contribute a British favourite to our night of snacking. Therefore, in addition to the already meaty barbeque feast, I made the culinary masterpiece that is pigs in blankets. My mum and I went to our local butcher and asked him if we could buy some chipolatas. With a very inscrutable look on his face he told me that he has never even heard of the term! After searching around for a bit (bear in mind, butcheries in South Africa is about as big as a Co-op shop in England) I found it! It was labelled as ‘Wiltshire pork cocktail grillers’… I also bought the beefy version to South Africanise it a little since pork sausages are known as ‘English sausages’ and we only consume this at a fancy breakfast.
Then the South Africans did something that my British husband have not seen or heard of before. We made rainbow bread! For us it is quite a customary part of a snacking platter and needless to say, we had to have it on the table.
About 12 slices of bread
2 Boiled eggs, mashed with potato masher until very fine crumbs
Fresh basil, blitzed in food processor
Mix each of the layers’ ingredients together in three separate bowls.
Place one slice of bread on a board and spread a thin layer of the red ketchup-butter mix. Place another slice of bread on top and spread with a thin layer of the eggy mayo. Add another slice of bread with the basil butter on top. Finally finish with a slice of bread and wrap the entire sandwich in cling film.
Repeat with the rest of the bread until you have three whole sandwiches.
Place these in the freezer for an hour or two until very firm, but not solid.
Once firm, slice the crusts off with an electric knife. (It lets you cut very precise, but if you don’t have one then a sharp bread knife and a steady hand will do).
Slice the bread very thinly to show off those layers. By the time you serve the bread it should be thawed completely, but still cool to the touch.
Other delicacies on our snacking table:
Gemsbok (type of Venison) sosaties, beef boerewors sausage, smoked impala (type of Venison) cheese grillers, pork ribs, lamb chops, Russian (spiced pork) sausages, cheese platter with my mum’s homemade watermelon preserve and vegetable crudités with homemade tzatziki. Of course we had to have homemade biscuits for desert!
Later that balmy Christmas Eve evening we celebrated Christmas by sharing gifts. The South African tradition is always to start with reading the Christmas story from the Bible and follows on by sharing small gifts. Often these gifts are handmade or practical and this year was no exception as my hubby received a beautiful handmade quilt from my parents. I truly love this part of the culture, as gift giving is intimate and unique. Gifts that tell a story and often my mum would start making these in July to ensure every detail is attended to. This way family members can show off their skills and give something that is truly unique and meaningful.