It’s Christmas eve, Luca is asleep on the sofa, both the flat and via Galvani are disconcertingly quiet and still. It’s not quite dark enough to turn the lights on, but nearly. The half light is rather nice, as is the scent of the clementine leaves and the curls of peel on a plate on the table . The pears poached in red wine are a bit soft and the herring patè is a bit salty, which isn’t actually a bad thing as I inadvertently bought unsalted bread which Romans call sciocco, which means without salt or stupid, pane sciocco, stupid bread. Good bread though, particularly with salty things.
Having changed my mind back and forth at least a dozen times: ambivalence always lingers at this time of year, I didn’t actually book our flights to London until the day before yesterday, which means I didn’t make any real plans, food or otherwise. Fortunately I am surrounded by people who do, not only that, they are accommodating and willing to adapt them. Tonight we are going to the other side of Rome to my friend Elizabeth’s for dinner, tomorrow I will cook an elemental christmas lunch for four, then on Thursday we fly from Rome to Bristol and then head down to my parents new house in Symondsbury in Dorset for the week in-between and New Year. The plan is that I write as much as I can while Luca goes feral in the garden with his cousins.
Turkeys should have been ordered by the end of last week, fortunately my butchers are as accommodating as my friends. The eldest son negotiated me half an eight kilogram bird, then the mother of the family, on the busiest day of the year, boned it – making a series of nifty cuts inside to catch the stuffing, then deftly eased the skin away from the flesh so it will wrap its way back around the entire roll. Tacchino ripieno, at least this is the plan. I felt wholly confident as she explained how I should season the bird, her certain hands miming the postion of the sausage and chestnut stuffing and demonstrating how I should roll and tuck the turkey into a tight log and secure it with cooking twine. I am feeling significantly less confident now. I also don’t have any twine, or, come to think of it, sage. At least the chestnuts are peeled.
I’ve turned the light on, the fairy lights on the wall too, which have a fade in and out effect which make them seem malfunctional, or eccentric, or both, and me slightly woozy, but not in a bad way. I really should go and peel potatoes, top and tail turnips or sort out the giblets, or maybe I’ll do everything the morning after drinking too much coffee and eating more than my fair share of panetone. Happy Christmas and I wish you all, whatever plans you may or may not have, peace (even if it’s the noisy kind) and good things.