Monday, 17 December 2007


Recently I ate a whole box of after dinner mints. Well, all except two, and as enticing as they were, I just could not fit them in. I ate them first thing next morning instead!
Now there are some questions to be answered here. Firstly, why did I buy them in the first place? Well, you see, I am having seventeen – that’s one seven, seventeen – people here for Christmas, and for some days preceding Christmas, and for some days after Christmas. So that answers the second question – why I ate them! I ate them because I was suddenly overwhelmed with the largeness of it all. All those people, all that food, such a small fridge, such a small oven, such small bench space, such small expertise in catering for numbers.
These days its just my husband and me, so its quite ok to say ‘will toasted ham sandwiches do?’ – ‘oooops, haven’t got any ham, would toast do?’
I don’t think the hordes who are descending on me – in the nicest way of course – will be satisfied with toasted ham sandwiches.
When I got this brilliant – as I thought at the time – idea, it all seemed to be such a breeze. Why, I’ll invite everybody I thought, and half won’t come, and it will all be lovely.
Everyone is coming.
As Christmas loomed closer and closer I frantically spring cleaned the top cupboards in the bedroom – yeah, right, as if anyone will stick their nose in there, and comment on its cleanliness and tidiness – and other such non essential chores.
Then I did the more obvious things – but for why? Five minutes after everyone arrives every living surface will be covered with clothes, food, glasses containing liquid which can be spilt, and miles and miles or wrapping paper. And with four little ones, all under the age of four and a half, probably there’ll be some other nasty surprises too.
I think we should all do our spring clean AFTER the visitors have gone home!
And I’ve been buying things ahead. Putting aside chips, and nuts, and bags of mixed lollies, and savoury biscuits (see my previous blog in relation to that little exercise!) and a box of after dinner mints.
My husband had a death threat hanging over him he if opened any of it. Its for Christmas, I’d plaintively cry whenever he suggested we might just have the nuts or whatever.
Now I can see his point. The other night I was making a list – what still to buy, what still to do and so on. The list got longer and longer, my depression got deeper and deeper. The only solution was chocolate, but there was none in the house.
I’ll just open the after dinner mints and have one, I thought. Or two. Well, you know the rest. And I’m here to tell you, not only do I now have to buy another box of after dinner mints, they are not the magic ‘get over it’ cure that I thought they might be.
Seventeen visitors will be knocking on my door very soon, and I think the next step to coping is to open some of that wine we bought ahead.
Happy holidays everyone.


What is it with biscuits these days? I mean I just want plain ordinary savoury biscuits – you know, the little ones, which you can use for dips, and cheese, and pate, and so on. Just perfectly plain ones, if you don’t mind.
Every second one I pick off the supermarket shelves these days is flavoured – seaweed, bbq chicken, cheese and chives, or even more exotic seaweed with a splash of sea salt, or rosemary, or something. Why? They take up miles of shelf space too, have you noticed? There are so many varieties that it takes ten minutes just to trawl along looking, reading the labels, let alone make a choice.
And the packaging blurb is getting more verbose – ‘Hummus and Lemon, with just a touch of Wasabi’. Yes, I can hear it now, the guest who can always be relied on to make a comment about what you serve - not only ‘Mmmmm, sauvignon blanc from California I do believe,’ but also ‘And do I detect a small hint of wasabi with the hummus?’
And, some of the flavours – what is it with these people? – some sort of a competition to work out the strangest flavour combinations? Beetroot and walnut! I kid you not! And now there are seasonal ones – Not only Christmas tree shapes, but Christmas flavours. I for one will not be surprised when Reindeer and Holly Berries appears. And, God forbid, for Easter – Rabbit and a dash of Chocolate, perhaps. Don’t worry – you’ll see it soon, they usually put out the Easter stuff one day after News Years Holiday.
All I want is some perfectly plain little bickie so as not to overwhelm the flavour of the aforesaid cheese/dip/pate I’m serving it with.
And the same goes for chips. What has happened there, I ask you? Where are the good old plain salted chips that everyone ate without complaint? Now its ‘lite’ and ‘extra lite’, and ‘baked not fried’, and ‘gourmet salt’ or ‘sea salt’, and ‘crinkled’ or ‘flat’, ‘small’ or ‘large’, and ‘supreme’ – what on God’s great earth is a ‘supreme’ flavoured potato chip? And now they’re in tins as well as bags, or even a bag of bags. And then the bag – ‘large’, ‘extra large’ and ‘jumbo’, which is as big as the pillow I sleep on. And notice that they start at ‘large’? What happened to ‘medium’ and ‘small’.
Once salt and vinegar was as exotic as it got. Now there are ‘cheddar cheese’, ‘supreme cheese’, ‘extra cheese’ and ‘bitey cheese’ flavoured chips – not just cheese, see, but salsa, and chilli, and lemon grass, and Thai, and would you believe bolognaise!
I’m all for new things, new tastes, new experiences, but please, please, Mr Savoury Biscuit and Mr Chip Maker, can I just have good ol’ plain ones somewhere in the range.
I wonder if one day the plain ones will re-appear, and we’ll all rush to buy them again as something quite different and we’ll be able to serve them to that guest who we can rely on to say ‘Mmmmm, sauvignon blanc from California I do believe, and is that a perfectly plain unflavoured little biscuit – my, what a hostess you are, my dear – always up with the latest!’