Traditions run deep
Recently I have been asked by a fellow food writer about my Christmas traditions. I don’t think she expected as much as she got!
I love Christmas; the preparation time, the slowing down and the memories of my mum and me crafting, baking and drinking gallons of cinnamon spiced tea.
When I was a child, my mum would give us kids a ‘Bunter Teller’ (translated a coloured plate). It was a dish filled with sweets. For some reason my mum thought that I loved marzipan and my plate was filled with marzipan bread, baked marzipan ornaments, marzipan spuds (called so as they looked like perfectly round potatoes) and other disguises she could find.
Everything was made of marzipan while my brothers got chocolate, nuts and other sweets. I never understood why my mum thought I loved marzipan so much. I never had the heart to tell her that I would have preferred the Kinder chocolate my brothers got.
So for many years, I nibbled away on the marzipan late into January (giving loads to friends at school in the process). When I got older, the plate became a bag as we celebrated Christmas in my house and I used it to make chocolates with marzipan fillings for friends, never telling my mum.
When I moved to Ireland, she sent me marzipan every year and I was able to spread the ‘joy’ amongst my Irish friends but when my mum moved in with me, she wasn’t able to buy marzipan sweets anymore as they weren’t widely available.
As much as I never really liked marzipan, I get all nostalgic now when I see some in Aldi or Lidl at Christmas time, knowing my mum would have bought the entire shelf for me.
The start of November is one of the many times I miss my mum the most. Her excitement when I started baking the Christmas cakes – she told me that dad didn’t like peel in his cake and me, being the rebel I never was as a child, putting some extra peel in it (he ate it anyway).
She would enjoy the smell of the mincemeat and helped me label the jars and told me every year that she didn’t like raisins or currants. I started then to mince the meat (making it truly mincemeat) and making mince pies for her she could eat (it was the texture of the dried fruit she didn’t like).
When I answered the question of my fellow food writer, I first thought that I didn’t have that many traditions but when I answered the email all these wonderful memories came flooding back – even the taste of the marzipan.
Will I buy marzipan this year? Not a chance but I might start the tradition of the Bunter Teller again – Mr T giving out to me for putting sweets in front of him while he is munching happily away on them. His Bunter Teller would be filled with Bounty, nuts and dark chocolate.
Traditions are a wonderful thing, aren’t they?