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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

23 December 2012

Festive feast

When you think of Christmas, what food comes to mind?

I think of:
  • Christmas sweets: marzipan, kulkuls, date rolls and milk-cream all painstakingly crafted after hours of tricep-building stirring.
I can still picture my Aunty Enid’s exquisitely formed marzipan fruit from when we were kids. She would manipulate and mould the marzipan mass to form a cornucopia of fruit that looked almost too good to eat! My brother Jason and I always made a beeline for the sugar-coated strawberries...

So this year, I decided to give marzipan a crack. I also tried my hand at date rolls, dal sweet and X’mas cookies, but, let’s face it, the piece de resistance was always going to be the marzipan. I’m quite chuffed with the fruits of my labour:


  •  Christmas cake: warm and spicy, bursting with sultanas and dried fruit that have been plumped up in brandy for over a month.
Strangely enough, in the Bandra of my childhood, Christmas cakes were never baked at home – everybody took theirs to the local bakery. Till today, I have no idea why! A couple of nights before Christmas, Nana Evelyn and Mum would measure and mix the ingredients – candied peel and fruit, flour, eggs, butter... At the crack of dawn the next day, dad would take the cake to the Bazaar Road bakery with our label placed front and centre on the cake batter. In a couple of hours, it was collected. The heady aroma of spice and fruit would waft through the whole house. Any thoughts of helping yourself to a slice were thwarted by Nana – midnight mass on St.Peter’s Church grounds first; cake only after that. Which made the wait all the more delicious!

  • Christmas lunch: there HAS to be roast chicken with stuffing and trifle for dessert. I’m not fussed if there’s no glazed ham and, confession time, I’ve NEVER tasted turkey!
Turkey was just not available in Bombay. Actually, strike that; there would be a few straggly birds gobbling in a cage outside Baptista Cold Meats come Christmas, but I don’t know anyone who actually bought one. Other Christmas lunch must-haves were Sorpotel (the East Indian version – not the Goan or Mangi ones), and Pork Vindaloo, both of which I refused to eat. And of course, Potato Chops, my all-time favourite food –YUM! We would feast, feast and then feast some more. But we always had a separate dessert stomach for trifle!

Fingers crossed, we’re going to have at least one of these festive foods this Christmas...

So tell me, what food springs to mind when you think of Christmas?
And what’s on your Christmas menu this year?

18 December 2012

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Santa is taking centre-stage at the Rodericks’ residence. While Baby Jesus lays peacefully in his crib and the baubles wink at us, all breakfast talk is on the Man in Red.

Caitlyn: “I think I saw Santa coming into my room last night...”
Me: “Santa will be here only on Christmas eve.”
Caitlyn: “Maybe he was checking on me to see if I’ve been good...”
Breslyn: “Then maybe he saw how many times you woke up Mummy and Daddy last night. Hmm...”
Caleb: “But how will he get into the house? We don’t have a chimney – we only have a fireplace.”
Me: “Maybe he has a special magic key to open all the doors of all the houses in the whole, entire world.”

I remember how I found out the truth behind Santa.
I could not have been a day over seven years old. It was Christmas Day. Dad, Jason and I were out visiting the rellies. First stop: dad’s eldest sister, Enid’s mammoth house. We’re sitting around the dining table at the back, marvelling at – and indulging in – A.Enid’s marzipan fruit and Christmas cake. Then U.Trevor and A.Enid ask what Santa brought me. My cousin Bruce leans in and whispers to me, “Santa’s not real; your mum and dad put your present there while you were sleeping.”

The world as I knew it shatters. The horror!

So when it comes to my kids, I'm going to bend over backwards to keep the magic and mystery of Santa Claus alive for as long as possible. And maybe leave some marzipan out for Santa on Christmas eve as a bribe...

What do you remember most about Christmas when you were growing up?
What are you doing to celebrate the festive season this year?
What’s on your wish-list to Santa?