Last Christmas I made (amongst other things) gravlax. A side of salmon, cured in sugar and rock salt and dill and juniper berries and gin. My brother, who shares my affinity for Bombay Saphire, proceded to eat the gin soaked curing paste as I brushed it off, preparing to thinly slice the moist, sweet bright pink fish. Unsurprisingly, it made him ill.
I miss him.
Soon to be professor-doctor-clever-pants in the world's most obscure and impractical discipline, he lives in Oxford, where it is very cold and people ride bicycles. He was here, with me, last year for Christmas. This year is another year when we are not spending Christmas together.
I miss him.
Not that he is much help at Christmas (although his bacon-sandwich making capabilities, possibly his only real culinary triumph, are to be respected on Boxing Day and New Year's Day, when fried breakfast food is generally welcomed). He does have an eye for Christmas decorations (insisting on a real tree last year, and hence improving the Christmassy-ness of the whole occassion). And he does know the words to most carols, even if he doesn't always sing them in tune (an allegation he would no doubt deny).
Last year (for a number of reasons that now seem ridiculous) I experienced a severe case of 'being-overwhelmed-at-Christmas', which manifested in tears about two barbeequed chickens (best not to ask). My brother just being here, in all his goofy, idiotic, and vaguely dada-esque way made it just a bit easier to cope. (How this involved purchasing pale blue silk socks is a mystery). We ate half a kilo of fresh raspberries to help us deal with the whole situation.
I shouldn't worry that he'll be lonely at Christmas (he has more facebook friends than I have recipe clippings, which is to say, a great many). He will be having the white Christmas I can only ever dream about. But he isn't here, and he'll miss all the summer fruit, the cherries, the cold beer and the cricket in the backyard. He'll miss the sunburn and the gin and tonics and the pimms cups and the ice-cream from my new ice-cream machine. He'll miss having people around him who have known him forever. If he mopes unreasonably, I won't be there to tell him to stop being an idiot. He'll miss me.
Christmas Salad: roquette, peaches, buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto
Slice two very ripe yellow peaches into thin wedges. Toss with two cups (ish) of wild roquette. tear six slices of prosciutto and toss through with the peaches and roquette. Arrange on a plate. Break one ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella over the top, drizzle with olive oil and eat in Australia at Christmas time.