It is hot! And getting hotter by the day.  Somehow I haven’t managed to feel the spirit of Christmas yet.  Coming from the UK I think I need the rain,the cold and the dark for my Christmas mood to kick in.

But it is the beginning of December and I really need to get my act together to get us ready for our first Aussie Christmas.  It will be so different to what I know but I’m going to immerse us all in the whole ‘Christmas Down Under’ experience. 

First of all we are dumping the traditional Christmas turkey.  No more of that this time!  We are going to do it like the Aussies do.  Well ,the younger generation that is.  Back in the nineties Christmas lunch began to evolve and change. The old European tradition of Christmas turkey started to be replaced.  The hot and heavy comfort food that was a perfect fit for European Christmas didn’t go well with the glorious Australian weather and the 'summer Christmas'. For a long time  Aussies bravely tried to stuff themselves with hot turkey, brussels sprouts and some random roasted veggies, at the same time sweating as if there were locked in a Finnish sauna.  Finally a few of the bravest ones said “We are having no more of that! We demand our Christmas to be free from food malfunction and we want to suffer no more!  We are tired of pretending it’s winter and frankly we don’t care about white Christmas anymore!” And that was how it all started.  They decided to find a better fit for both the weather and the occasion.  That was the beginning of the quiet kitchen revolution.

The foundation for the new traditions were simple: we eat light and fresh and we support our local produce.

The succulent seafood

Aussies like prawns and over Christmas they eat a lot of them.  If you are lucky enough to be in the Sydney area around Christmas time your first step for the best prawns in town must be the Sydney Fish Market.  They supply and promote sustainable seafood and are the largest wholesale and retail seafood market in the southern hemisphere.  They are also home to the Sydney Seafood School.  Pretty impressive isn’t it!?! 

So to all you lovely foodies and seafood lovers, remember that and visit the market when you are in Sydney.

One thing you really want to ensure is the freshness of the goods.  And like all seafood, prawns don’t keep so buy them quickly, take them home and eat within 36 hours of purchase.  It is this magical 36 hours before Christmas when you want to head down to the market to get your share of  Christmas delights.  How much do you think they expect to sell in this 36 hours prior to Christmas?  Well a lot! On average more than 120 tonnes of prawns and 70,000 dozen oysters!  Now that only confirms the importance of prawns at an Aussie Christmas feast!

 Oh, my mighty mangoes...

Christmas would not be the same without you!They are juicy, they smell heavenly, they are mouth-watering and they are in full season at Christmas! How could anybody resist them?Mangoes come in different varieties: there is Kensington Pride that is sweet and tangy; Calypso with its sweet juicy flavour, small seed and no string bits; there is the mysterious R2E2 which is a large round fruit that is mildly sweet.

 

 

That is not the end of the list. But if you want to find out more, here is a good place to start. Whichever way you have them they will not disappoint you; sweet or savoury, in salads or in smoothies you can choose. One thing will happen for sure- they will conquer your taste buds and you just give in but it will be a sweet defeat.

 Cherries – the sweetest memories of childhood

My hubby John, a very proud Aussie, always remembers a big box of cherries that his mum used to buy for Christmas.  Sweet, juicy and irresistible.  There are more than 2,800 hectares of cherries in Australia and normally around Christmas you will see them everywhere; fruit shops, farmers markets, roadside stalls and even petrol stations.  This year however, they will be more of a delicacy, rare and pricey.  This is due to the excessive spring rain that cause national crops to fall by about half.  Nevertheless they will still remain the spirit of summer Christmas afternoon so make sure you have them on your party plate.

 

Finally, Pavlova- the quintessence of summer, the prima ballerina of Australian desserts. Colourfully dressed in fragrant fruits, with crispy meringue shell and soft, delicate lining is simply sensational and truly irresistible...

And when all the eating is done and the BBQ is still hot and sizzling, the Aussies are hitting the beach for a surf or a swim.  Not a bad life indeed! 

So… Merry Christmas everyone!