The Christmas season is upon us and that’s going to mean something different depending on who or where you are. You might love to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus and sing carols, perhaps it’s Santa Claus and gift giving that puts a twinkle in your eye. For others it could be the joy of spending endless hours with family, then again, it might be figuring out how to spend as little time with the family as possible!
Whether it’s in the United States where the snow is falling and the snowmen are being erected, or here in Terrigal on the Central Coast of Australia, where the heat is so intense the only thing you’re wondering is when the next swim is going to be. One thing that is common among all Christmas traditions is Food Glorious Food!
From roast pork to mango salad, from panetone and back to the inimitable leg of ham, Christmas dining is truly one of the great shared joys of this unique holiday. Here a couple of Christmas classics to whet your appetite for this festive season.
The Leg of Ham
Could this take the mantle for most iconic Australian Christmas delicacy? We’re not so audacious to claim such a thing, but have you ever had a Christmas lunch in Australia without one?
The story goes that the tradition of eating ham evolved from the Germanic pagan ritual of sacrificing a wild boar to the Norse god Freyr during harvest festivals. Since then, different cultures have taken this tradition on in varying ways.
For the Swedish, the ham is always at the centre of the cold cuts section traditionally known as a smörgåsbord! The Swedes love to boil or bake their ham, coat with a mixture of egg, breadcrumbs and mustard, and then brown it in the oven. In America, the ham will vary in popularity depending on what state you’re in, but is most definitely usurped by the famous Turkey.
In Australia though, the leg of ham is probably on every Christmas lunch table around the country. Put it on the plate with some mustard, or have a mid afternoon ham sandwich, then back in the cloth bag and into the fridge. Then bring it out for breakfast for some fried ham and eggs! The options are endless.
The controversy surrounding Pavlova is palpable. The two great rivalries between New Zealand and Australia may well be the All Blacks vs. the Wallabies, and who invented the Pavlova! This iconic dish is believed to have been created in honour of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who stunned audiences throughout New Zealand and Australia.
Whoever invented it doesn’t really bother us: the crispy chewy crust protecting the light fluffy interior, topped with fruit and cream is enough to make us go weak at the knees. In the domain of Christmas desserts in the Great Down Under, there is no competitor… unless of course you consider…
The Christmas Pudding
How can you argue against a pudding whose name actually has the word “Christmas” in it!? Legend tells us it originates back to Medieval England, and that it had to be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and that every family member had to stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Three Wise Men and their journey in that direction.
Whether true or not, one of the most common Christmas rituals has to be trying the pudding with a little bit of custard, and then comment on all the different ingredients, and whether it needs a little more of this, or a little more of that.
The Prawns and Oysters
There’s no going past some fresh seafood as the ultimate hors d’oeuvres on a hot summer Christmas day. Everyone’s got their style and technique: some chew their oysters, some do the quick squeeze of lemon and down in one. When it comes to peeling prawns, the more efficient you are in getting rid of that shell, the more fresh prawns you’ll get to dip into that Christmas sauce and into your belly.
We know that there are countless other Christmas classics, but the point is that here, at the Joker and the Thief, we absolutely adore Christmas time. It’s a celebration of all that we love: good food and drink combined with good company, and that’s something we pride ourselves on creating down here on the beautiful promenade of Terrigal Beach.