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Notes on How to Organize Christmas Lunch
- In the first few days of December, think about the people you would like to have at your table.
- Define the list and go over each diner’s food tastes and desires.
- Decide where you will have lunch – in the kitchen, dining room, a tavern, or on a table added to another room in the house.
- Think of the decorations and organize at least by December 15 so that you can gather the materials to achieve what you want.
- Choose the tablecloth, plates, and glasses and make sure everything is clean and tidy.
- Even if lunch takes place in the kitchen and you only have a checkered tablecloth, you can still make lunch a special event. Construct a centerpiece using branches and leaves that you find in the countryside or even in public spaces (take care not to damage the plants). Set up the place setting and decorate small name cards using your imagination or you can even use edible items such as figs, dates, or chocolate figurines.
- If you have more than 4 people, you should think about the placement of each one of them, bearing in mind the different personalities of the diners. Christmas lunch is long and everyone should feel at ease.
- Organize the room where lunch takes place to have a serving area where you can put everything you may want to serve plus the dishes. Remember to take a pot holder if you serving from hot pots. Set the table the night before or early morning of Christmas Day, this way you can control everything with tranquility.
By December 10, decide on the menu.
After you pinpointed the tastes and desires of the guests, start to think about how to compose the various courses taking into account the time it takes to implement them and your abilities in the kitchen.
- Try to use recipes that are not too elaborate.
- Avoid meat lasagnas and first courses that are very rich, broth with tortellini or cream of vegetables or bean soup is ideal.
- The appetizers should be small and attractive in appearance and color to stimulate your appetite.
- Start with an amuse bouche.
- If you have a traditional dish that everyone loves, prepare it with the best ingredients and pay careful attention to the presentation. Since traditional dishes are usually high in calories and fat, remember they may be difficult to digest, construct the lunch menu around them so that the appetizers and desserts are lighter and maybe just a small bite.
- Decide if the menu is meat or fish, do not mix these elements in large meals, even though it was common in the past for large meals.
- End the meal with a fruit sorbet possibly prepared by you.
- Serve dessert in the afternoon with coffee after a moment of conversation, or after a few games, especially if you have children.
- When your menu is set, try to match it with suitable wines. Get help from experts in your home or read with patience, the labels located on the back of the bottles that you feel is right to buy.
- Dessert is always served with a sweet wine, if you have a Muscat, make sure that it is chilled, this will enhance the flavor and promote digestion.
- Think about the kind of bread that may accompany the dishes and order it early. Also here, use a small amount of bread of excellent quality, possibly made from a mother yeast dough which is easier to digest.
My ideal menu consists of:
- A cold appetizer
- A hot appetizer
- A cream of vegetable or bean soup, or a consommé (clear broth soup) with special ingredients
- A meat or fish dish with vegetables
- A fruit sorbet
- A soft dessert (such as mousse)
- Desserts made with puff pastry and fresh and dried fruit to enjoy during the conversation in the afternoon or during a game.
PREPARATION OF THE COURSES (when the menu has been decided)
- Review the recipes to define the quantity of ingredients. Do not increase the dosage, the saying “it’s better to have leftovers than be hungry” is a saying you should forget. Lunch has several courses and you will end up eating too much or you will have so many leftovers that you will come to loathe the redundancy in the following day’s meals.
- Prepare a shopping list and consider if you need to order some special ingredients, this will help you avoid the anxiety of not finding what you want and therefore having to change the menu at the last minute.
- Define the time it takes to prepare the different courses, in some cases, certain dishes can be prepared a day or two in advance.
- Verify who can help you from your family and schedule the various tasks.
- If guests arrive with ready-made meals, agree on the type of food in time so that you can integrate them in your menu.
CREATE THE ATMOSPHERE
- If you are able to prepare the table with care, this will be interpreted as a sign of good hospitality and it will help warm the atmosphere. Even if you are tired from all the work that you’ve done, don’t let your guests notice it make sure you don’t complain.
- Suggest some conversation topics so that people can share experiences, facts, or situations. If there are children at the dinner table, let them join in the conversation. After lunch, especially with children, offer some simple games in which all can participate.