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Christmas with the Neighbours


By nariz


Since we moved to this remote mountain village four years ago, we have become firm friends with our neighbours – the only other permanent family here, and they have always insisted that we join them and their family for the Christmas Eve dinner. In this country Christmas Eve is ‘their’ day culminating in Papa Noel leaving small gifts in the fireplace for the children at midnight.

Unlike the British with their one plate of turkey, roasties, parsnips, brussels sprouts, ‘pigs-in-blankets’ and cranberry sauce, the Spaniards like to feast on fish – mainly langoustines and Tuna and bring in many dishes of langoustines dripping in butter and garlic, salmon mousse, salmon tartlets, tuna in a hot tasty salsa and bowls of clams. They have always been interested in the things I cook so on Christmas Day I always take over a plate of our traditional fare – just for their amusement. Following this they became interested in the way I cook turkey so that it isn’t as dry as their experience of it, consequently they’ve been ‘growing’ two turkeys this year – one for them and one for us! The only conditions being that I help pluck, and I marinate and cook the finished product!

The deed was done – swiftly and with quiet respect – and the plucked and cleaned birds were tucked away in our respective freezers.

As I type, the birds are both in separate bin-liners in large plastic boxes in my downstairs bathroom marinating in a brine containing salt, oranges, onions, mustard seeds, parsley, thyme, honey, sugar, juniper berries, cloves and a cinnamon stick.

Later today I take over my neighbour’s kitchen while I rub butter under the skin of her bird and cover the breast with bacon rashers.

This was all a very new experience for me and I wondered how I would feel about eating the bird I had such intimate dealings with instead of selecting an anonymous bird from the supermarket, but it all feels fine. I just hope nothing goes wrong with my cooking later today! Wish me luck!

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Greatest of luck! The marinade sounds interesting. Where do you live? I couldn't work out the flag!! I love the idea of fish for Christmas and 'growing Turkeys'! have a wonderfull day.

24 Dec, 2010


I'm in Northern Spain, Lulu. Feliz Navidad!

24 Dec, 2010


That marinade does sound nice Nariz. I can remember years ago when my Dad used to breed rabbits and we had that for Christmas Day, it was all we could afford and myself and my brothers got to keep the skins, we used to make Davy crocket hats. Feliz Navidad !

24 Dec, 2010


All sounds delicious. Good luck and happy Christmas

24 Dec, 2010


Now that sounds a wonderful sort of Christmas Nariz, have never thought of marinading the Turkey before so will give it a go, however, I think I would swop the Turkey dinner for the fishy one, my mouths watering as I type.
A very happy Christmas to you and your neighbours, enjoy.

24 Dec, 2010


Sounds a very tasty Xmas Nariz, hope all goes well for you, I'm sure they'll love it! Feliz Navidad or Bona Nadal!

24 Dec, 2010


Lots of luck with the cooking Nariz . . . food shared always tastes that bit better!

24 Dec, 2010


You remind me so much of the Christmases I spent in Spain & the Christmas Eve celebrations! Just last year about the time I'm writing this, 4pm, we were in an enormous superstore, that makes the one where my wife works here look like a corner shop, in Cuenca, Spain. (There were 2 others at least in the city!) My wife, sister-in-law & I were doing the shopping for the evening meal. It had been raining most of the day & when we returned in the bus we were able to see how the river had risen enormously!

Last Christmas, while the UK was shivering under the coldest winter in 30 years, Spain, especially the South West, was being flooded. Areas of the country that are semi-arid for the most part had more rain than they had seen in a life time! We had 2 days I think with no, or very little, rain in the 2 weeks we were there! The temperatures were also much higher than the norm for this time of year.

24 Dec, 2010


We.. it's been a bright sunny day here, Balcony, although cold, but enough for me to get two wash-loads dry in the sunshine!

Thanks everyone for your comments. As an update, I've been over to check on the turkey and baste it and - so far - all seems well. I just wish the Spaniards would eat earlier than 9.00 pm in the evening! I'm starving!

24 Dec, 2010


Your chritmas sounds very special! Mine will be spent at work cooking for 60 people, so today I treated my lot to a xmas treat in an italian restaurant- anti pasta and sea bass with langostine and cabbage. The perfect xmas lunch, Hope you turkey is also perfect. Sue

24 Dec, 2010


Good morning everyone! Happy Christmas! The turkey was declared 'perfecto!' Now I have to set to and cook mine exactly the same! Have a wonderful day whatever you're doing and thanks for all your lovely comments. Enjoy!

25 Dec, 2010


Did your turkey turn out "perfecto", Nariz? Perhaps because of being married to a Spaniard but I don't remember having any trouble adapting to the Spanish customs. Having a late night meal at 10pm was probably the most difficult but over the years we changed that to the normal meal in mid afternoon & only had a couple of sandwiches for supper. During our first two years of marriage we lived in Madrid & my job as a glazier took me all over the city & I could never get home before 6/7pm. Therefore I had to take my meals with me till I got fed up with that & joined my workmate who had his meals in cheap restaurants that produced acceptable meals at a quite reasonable price.

I followed the, more or less, Spanish way of living at the time. I miss it now! I only missed some of the foods we normally have here at Christmas & now I miss the Spanish food at Christmas! (Never satisfied, are we?)

Hope you've had a lovely day. :-))

25 Dec, 2010


Thanks, Balcony, yes it was a lovely day - igualmente! Our turkey WAS perfecto - in fact, the best we've ever had. We've tried, on many occasions, to go the Spanish way and have our main meal at arount 2.00 or 3.00 pm, (menu del dia is still a very acceptable and reasonably-priced choice) but it floors us for the rest of the day - even WITH a siesta! I think we're too set in our ways of finishing the day at around 6-ish (later in summer) then settling down with dinner and a glass of wine at around 8.00 pm.

It's lovely to be able to share the Spanish Christmas and customs with our neighbours and also have our own British Christmas - we even declare 'Boxing day' (which, of course, doesn't exist here) as a day off and, apart from preparing meals, we refuse to do anything that resembles work - just 'couch potato' in front of the fire and TV, eyeing up boxes of biscuits, sweets and mince pies and 'playing' with our presents.

Feliz Ano Nuevo, Balcony and family! :o))

26 Dec, 2010


Glad to hear about your lovely turkey that turned out "perfecto"!

Perhaps being still quite young (24) when I got married & living in Spain during the first 4 of our marriage, I adapted better to the Spanish Way of Life. I lived & worked just like any other Spaniard at the time.

My wife & I spent Christmas Day alone at home, on our computers, watching TV, making & receiving some phone calls. A boring day really! Today's lining up to be very similar! As we won't be having little Kirsty with us today as we normally do on a Sunday is going to make the day very long as well! As neither of us is interested in sport we have no interest in the sporting activities that take place on Boxing Day.

We don't have a car so can't go to visit our daughter & grandchildren as there is no public transport today, never is on a normal Sunday either, nor is there on a Bank Holiday. We will go next Thursday though as it is my wife's day off work. She will be working from Tuesday till Friday next week.

Hope you have a good time.

26 Dec, 2010


Once again Balcony - Igualmente!

26 Dec, 2010


¡Lo mismo te deseo! :-)) ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! :-))

26 Dec, 2010


that turkey sounds very very good!

28 Dec, 2010


It was, Sticki! Well worth the effort!

29 Dec, 2010


how about a cookery course for us all ~ next christmas? do you fancy running one?
just fancy a trip to spain and avoid all this fog and ice!!!

29 Dec, 2010


Come on over!! There's several nice typical Spanish casas for rent in the village sleeping between 4 and 8! Otherwise, nearer to next Christmas I'll put the recipe on here so you can all benefit!

30 Dec, 2010


many thanks nariz ~ that sounds an excellent idea.

30 Dec, 2010

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