We had a quiet Christmas Day at the Lucky 5 Star. The most notable thing about it, for me at least, was the weather — it was about 30 degrees Celsius (that’s upper 80s for you Americans) with blinding bright sun. It was a beautiful day, but I felt a little unsettled. It just didn’t feel like Christmas to me.
Joe’s family was scattered across Southern Africa and mine was 8,000 miles away in the States, so it was just the two of us and Leslee, our neighbor from the cottage next door.
I decided to make roasted red pepper lasagna, which is my favorite thing to cook for Christmas dinner back home. After two or three hours over a hot stove in a kitchen with no air-conditioning, I started to wonder if a nice fruit salad would have been better. But once it came out of the oven, all three of us were happy with my choice.
As we settled ourselves on the deck in the afternoon sun, with a delicious meal and a perfectly chilled bottle of Cape Point Sauvignon Blanc, I started thinking I could get used to this Christmas in summer thing.
After digesting the lasagna for a couple of hours, it was time for the finale — Christmas pudding.
For an American girl like me, pudding is a creamy chocolate/vanilla dessert, sold by Jello and packaged in cute plastic cups. Christmas pudding is, well, not that. It’s an English/South African tradition — dense fruit cake that’s heated up, doused in brandy, lit on fire, and then smothered in vanilla custard or cream.
I was suspicious of the pudding. It had been sitting in the back of the pantry, in its neat Woolworth’s box, since I arrived here five-and-a-half months ago. The package said best before 22 February…2009.
“It’s not a problem,” Joe assured me. “The brandy will cook out anything that can hurt us.”
It did look lovely when set alight, especially with the edible nasturtiums from the garden.
My verdict: Christmas pudding is tolerable with lots of custard. But I’d rather have a Christmas chocolate cake.
Joe must have been right about the brandy because we all survived the meal with stomachs intact.