They never seem to stop, the Christmas parties around here. It started on the 3rd of December with a Swedish schnapps-fuelled, drunken group-singing, buffet-laden night (the Janssen’s temptation was burnt at the edges, poor show, dahling), the physical effects of which were endured well into the 5th.
Today held the first hurdle of the new year: the team Christmas ‘do’. And on 1400 cals for the day. In the old days I would have started off all prissy and controlling with a small glass of whine (sic) and before long, after succumbing to peer pressure from a load of blokes (it’s a male dominated industry), there would be more wine in ever increasing glass sizes and an ‘oh bollocks’ approach to what I ate.
It would be great: good, soft hearted, crusty bread lost beneath a comforting blanket of butter (with flaky salt added if no one was looking, until I’d had enough wine to wilfully dab up the salt with a buttery crust), a starter like, say…..escargot that had slowly been drowned in liquid butter until their meaty flesh was saturated with garlic, the parsley a token gesture trying to convince you that you wouldn’t be sweating heady, pungent garlic for days to come. Each mouthful slowly speared and chewed in a moment of introspective joy; woe betide any interrupters. The dish would be scoured clean with yet more of that glorious, sweetly scented fresh bread, the firm, chewy crust a handle to get into every last china curve.
Then it would be onto the main course, which could be anything. Let’s pretend it’s slow cooked stuffed squid. Prawns, chorizo and breadcrumbs, blitzed together with herbs, garlic and seasoning are forced into resisting-yet-pliant cones of milky white flesh before being submerged in a piquant, unctuously rich sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, olives (for that all important umami edge) and paprika. The squid tentacles tucked around the turgid little packages of squiddy promise and delight like ‘top up’ gifts around the tree. Vegetables, of course, and another good plate-wiping to finish.
Pudding? Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly. Well, let’s just look at the menu. Hang on, if I move around a bit I’m sure I can jiggle some extra room from somewhere, maybe around a kidney. If it gets crushed in the melee, I’ve another to keep me going. Cheesecake! By this point I’m eating for the sake of keeping my jaws moving. I can’t remember what it tastes or feels like. My face has gone numb from the wine and it’s a miracle I’m not drooling the masticated pudding out into my wine glass instead of taking another
So here’s a learn for you: get yourself prepared and check out the menu online, with calorie counts if possible. I had a great time tonight. It was a nibbly, platter-sharing starter where I hogged the green, raw stuff and was parsimonious with the baked cheese and charcuterie. The snails were avoided in favour of linguine. I had a single pint (not very ladylike, but then neither is having someone pour you into a cab to get you home) of wheat beer and stocked up on water. The pudding menu was ignored. The men went off to hard-drinking pub and the other ladies and I went home (getting on the motorway for 6am tomorrow is a great excuse). It was a great laugh and I’ve got 24 calories to spare. And I can remember it.
Was I healthy? Coffee for breakfast + vegetables for lunch = No. But it’s better than the alternative. And I’m starving hungry right now.