At Christmastime, my kitchen becomes a place where past and present merge. Through food, I honor my ancestors – the known, the unknown, and the never-to-be knowns, all the people whose DNA runs through my veins and shapes my nose and determines my character.
They hailed from Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Cheshire, Lincoln, London, Kent … and on and on, all English place names, as well as some Scots names. And English surnames galore, too. Lambeth, Horton, Lane, Gibson, Mead, Purdy, Moore, Sherwood, Miller, Seymour, etc. The earliest, Margaret De Warwick, born around 1370, in Upton, Cheshire, England. And the first American name is that of Richard Pace of Jamestowne, possibly of Wapping Wall, England, though Samuel Maycock, born in 1594, might really be the first. But that’s all rather muddled, fodder for another post.
So I’m naturally rather keen to learn more about all these people. What I know now reads like a novel, quite frankly. Some served as judges, assemblymen, founders of towns and villages, operators of taverns and boarding houses, scouts during the French-and-Indian War, generals during the Revolutionary War, soldiers during the Civil War, teachers, nurses, preachers, ranchers, college professors, laborers, sheriffs, businessmen, chemists, and farmers. Some made messes of their lives, some died young, and many lived to be very old, an amazing feat before the onset of vaccines and antibiotics.
Over 457 people make up my family tree at the moment. But not all the branches are visible yet, so the tree’s by no means complete.
Since I do not know what actually appeared on their tables or in their larders, I’m taking liberties with my menu for this year’s Christmas food. Caveat: the following purports to be nothing less than a fantasy meal, which I do plan to cook.
English-Inspired Christmas Menu 2017
Potted Shrimps & Toast Points
Roast Beef with Madeira Sauce
Braised Spiced Red Cabbage
Roasted Root Vegetables*
Apple Slices with Stilton and Walnuts on a Bed of Green-Leaf Lettuce
Plum Pudding with Brandy Butter
*Parsnips, Rutabaga, Carrots, Potatoes
Happy Christmas to All!!
Note; I wish all you a wonderful holiday season, whatever you celebrate. And even if you don’t celebrate anything at all, please, celebrate Life. I’ll be back with more after January 1, 2018!
© 2017 C. Bertelsen