Christmas 2020, one for the history books I’m sure. One hopefully never to be repeated again. It goes without saying that it was different for all of us this year. The difference and difficulties are not have been the same for everybody. We have realised this year that while we are all in the same choppy waters we are all in different vessels, meaning that some of have a bit more resilience while weathering this storm and others are painfully horribily exposed and vulnerable.
This year I did not make any solid plans or have high expectations for a full family gathering. It would have been nice but for me, because nothing had improved in terms of disease transmission and infection rates, staying at home was a saddening but safe option for me. I live in London and after Prime Minister Johnson’s announcement on 19th December, we have been living in tier 4, which means no mixing of households, effectively any different decisions I might have made before that date had been taken out of my hands. In the pre-COVID days – when was that? – we had actually wanted to spend this Christmas in Spain, southern Spain, with the sunshine, sea and delicious food. Instead we got lockdown Christmas.
So the set up this year was Ignacio and I in our little flat, leisurely cooking and eating our way through the day. We contacted the rest of our little world by telephone, video calls and text message.
It was actually fine. I am grateful to be alive to see the day. I have friend who has been unwell for sometime with this horrible illness and I feel bad that this has happened at this time.
It being a different Christmas, turkey was off the menu, for me at least. If I am being honest, I’m not sure I would have cooked one anyway! The last Christmas dinner I hosted I went for a salmon option. This year, I decided that I would cook the whole chicken that has been sitting in the freezer, for a very long time. Some where on Google I happened upon Nigella’s one pot chicken recipe which turns out to be featured in her new book Cook Eat Repeat. It looked amazing.
The slight problem for me was that I did not have a container big enough fit the chicken and cook in the oven.
I made a ‘chicken rub’ out of minced garlic, dried mixed herbs, olive oil, salt and black pepper and smooshed it under the chicken skin. I rubbed the chicken skin with butter. I grated lemon zest over the chicken (and somehow managed to remove the edge of the nail of to my right thumb – very painful), added some more minced and whole garlic, dried tarragon, fresh thyme. I squeezed over the juice of two lemons. I sprinkled over the salt and pepper and put the bald and juiced lemon inside the chicken.
Although I made a plan on Christmas Eve to have the chicken in the slow cooker by 9 am, that plan evaporated on Christmas morning. I woke up and thought, what’s the hurry? Nobody was coming to our flat. We were not going to meet anybody. So I had what I felt was a well deserved lie-in, Ignacio made a lovely little Christmas breakfast and I managed to put start the timer at midday.
In the inbetween – Ignacio and I took a walk. We watched a film. We had a little ‘tapas’ and ate some of my baked goods.
Five o’clock came and out came a lovely well cooked chicken. There was quite a bit of juice at the bottom of the pot, so I took out the chicken to let it rest and cooked the orzo in the fluid. It worked well. Ignacio cut up the chicken and made a cucumber, olive and feta cheese salad.
It was a very simple and quiet dinner! Finally eaten sometime after 6pm.
Then, all of a sudden, Christmas was ‘over’ – food eaten, presents opened. Ignacio and I found ourselves on the sofa, watching another film and feeling quite full. Not what we had expected but I was and am grateful for every minute.