I love Jenny Oliver's books: although they're shelved as romance, hers are invariably beautiful stories of personal growth, in which the development of a relationship is only one small part. So I was delighted when she offered to drop by and write a guest post with a festive theme.
Jenny's third novel, The Little Christmas Kitchen, is available now. Inspired by the seasonal and foodie themes of the book, she writes here about the tastes that uniquely capture Christmas for her.
For me, top of the list has always been that heady mix of raisins and spices and brandy that permeates Christmas cakes and puddings and mince pies. But there are certainly others: walnuts fresh from the shells; sugared almonds; German lebkuchen.
What are your favourites?
There’s no denying that the obvious Christmas tastes are the succulent turkey, the love ’em or hate ’em Brussels sprouts and the flaming Christmas pudding but I think there are other tastes, specific to everyone, that conjure an immediate flavour of the festive season. Here are mine...
- For the last few Decembers we’ve gone to France with a couple of friends predominantly to go to the supermarket! This may sound odd, but to me the french supermarket is no Sainsbury’s or Tesco, it’s a hypermarket of delight. I like a Carrefour best but I’m happy with an Intermarche. We go on the ferry from Dover to Calais and stay a weekend - this year we’ve booked an Airbnb apartment in the seaside town, Wimereux. A mini holiday and the perfect treat. We go to the market, we walk through the chilly streets, we have lunch and then we supermarket sweep! Confit du canard, mustard in glasses with cute drawings on the side, cornichons, peppered saucisson, golden madelines, juicy marron glace and bottles of crisp white wine and deep ruby red. The car on the way home is rammed! And the meal on the ferry is delicious - warm rotisserie chicken, crisp baguette, soft avocado and maybe a cheeky bottle of red.
- Big tins of Quality Streets. Jewelled coloured chocolates that sparkle temptingly! My favourites are the purple ones... unfortunately they’re my sister’s favourite as well which used to lead to quite of lot of sneaky hiding of the chocolate box (but became the perfect inspiration for The Little Christmas Kitchen.)
- Hazelnuts, dates and turkish delight. No other time of year do we have any of these! But Christmas, without fail, the box of glistening dates appears, the nutcrackers and the powdery sweet turkish delight.
- Panettone. This is new addition to my list. We had it last Christmas for breakfast, dipped it in our coffee and let the sweet soft brioche-like bread melt in our mouths. Awesome.
- Cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Nutty Spanish Manchego, stinky French Epoisses, sharp British Stilton all served with quince jelly, dried figs and maybe a little glass of port!
There are so many more I could mention, but instead I’d really love to hear from you. What are your top five tastes of Christmas? Tweet me @JenOliverBooks. Happy eating x
Jenny’s latest novel The Little Christmas Kitchen is out now. Hungry for more? Try The Vintage Summer Wedding and The Parisian Christmas Bake-Off (also in paperback).