The Christmas Goose
I've had a lot of people ask, "How was your Christmas is Switzerland?" Christmas time in Switzerland is lovely. There is an understated elegance to decorations. Christmas markets spring up everywhere, selling everything from handbags to food. Gingerbread is popular (not quite the same as American gingerbread). Heisse maroni (hot chestnut) stands pop up as well. Sounds idyllic. Looks pretty good, too.
Advent calendars are also huge, though they were an epic fail in my house. The kids weren't always given an Advent calendar in years past but this year I thought we should go with local tradition and the kids would each get one. Caroline got a very cute Playmobile one, Lauren one filled with chocolates, and Sam, one filled with Smarties. Caroline opened all the boxes in 6 minutes and left nothing but a pile of cardboard. Sam informed me Switzerland Smarties are actually chocolate filled- more a poor cousin to the M&M- and he has never liked chocolate. Lauren was less than enthused and her calendar sat neglected on the mantle for the month.
Since Doug and I have been married, we have never celebrated Christmas by ourselves. It always involves some extended family or friends. This year it was just us. Kids didn't seem to mind. I did. Doug didn't offer an opinion.
We bought the kids their gifts and debated on what to have for dinner. Doug and I really wanted a turkey, as did two-thirds of the kids. The other third was just going to have to survive on mashed potatoes. Doug offered to shop in Germany as it is less expensive (in theory). I don't like shopping in Germany and suggested he take Lauren in my stead. Lauren LOVES a mission. She filed away details such as how many kilograms of meat you can bring back into Switzerland (.5 kg /per person), understood what perishables we needed, and what non-perishables would be best to buy in bulk. She had her list. Doug had his. A turkey was at the top of the list.
They were gone all day but accomplished the mission. A few days later, it's Christmas Eve. Doug
starts defrosting the turkey. I baked the day before; apple pie, pumpkin pie, and chocolate chip cookies. That took all day. I am reduced to making my own crust. Figured that was my culinary contribution. I walked by the turkey (it was actually a pivot as my kitchen is 4' X 6') and I thought, "That is the longest, skinniest turkey I have ever seen."
Doug rubbed it in butter and sage. Popped it in the oven Christmas morning. Didn't smell like turkey. Brought it to the table. It was underwhelming. Sliced it. It was purple. German turkey is purple? Doug ate a piece. Sam ate a piece. Lauren, Caroline, and I just stared at it. I had a flashback to a recent cooking show starring Jamie Oliver. In it he's at a farm chasing a turkey and a goose around. It was his idea to rub the turkey with sage. Uh oh. That was no turkey. It was a GOOSE. A goose ( I still shudder). Maybe Charles Dickens knew what to do with a goose. We did not.
None of the kids got all wide-eyed and said, "I'd like to stroke it." Instead, Doug suggested putting gravy on it. Goose gravy is a greasy affair. It did NOT improve anything. Lauren offered her opinion that the gravy looked like vomit. I'm not a big fan of talking about vomit, especially at Christmas dinner but she was absolutely right. Doug had struggled with getting the gravy to come together, I now understood why. It didn't matter how much flour he added or whisking he did. That gravy was NEVER going to work.
The dinner conversation turned a little wistful talking about Doug's mom, Pearl, and how if she were here, surely we'd have a proper dinner. She'd never let this happen. I was never so happy to throw dinner out, open the windows, and wash all goose evidence away. To be fair to the sacrificial goose, had we been expecting goose, we still would have hated it BUT not with the same fervor perhaps. When you are expecting turkey and have the cranberry sauce all ready, it's a real buzz kill to find a goose put before you.
There was only one thing to do. I divided the desserts. Caroline had the chocolate chip cookies, Lauren had the apple pie, and I ate the pumpkin. Sam went for the Oreo stash and Doug had wine.
To answer the original question, Christmas in Switzerland was memorable...