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Why do we always overdo it at Christmas? My stomach is glad to get back to normal.

After the excesses of Christmas, it’s been a relief – and a necessity – to get back to eating normally.

Our Christmas turned out remarkably festive in the end, but four parties in eight days is a long chalk from our normal practice, and the late nights and overeating (and drinking) that accompanied it left us feeling totally exhausted. It was all very lovely, of course, and we thoroughly enjoyed it, but it was time to get to get back to our normal routine. 

It began on Christmas Eve with a gourmet dinner at a friend’s. S is a cordon bleu cook and for her, a few nibbles is usually a five-courser that would intimidate the most accomplished cook (amuse bouche of iced tomato coulis with avocado foam and blackcurrants, etc – you get the drift). Christmas dinner was amuse-bouche, foie gras, lamb cutlets with game chips, then pears, vanilla gateaux and creme anglaise.

So adroit is she in her little kitchen that I feel nervous at the idea of having her over, as we eat very simply, and focus mainly on vegetables and starches. Yesterday, for instance, my main meal was a simple concoction of steamed spinach, shaved Cheddar and cherry tomatoes. It barely constitutes a meal at all.

On Boxing Day we had another slap-up meal at the daughter of the above cook (and an equally good cook herself), which was based – as is the French taste – primarily on meat. Smoked salmon and caviar for the amuse-bouche, duck as the starter, great hunks of beef for the main course.

It was all fabulous, especially the orange and tomato sauce for the meat, but this is more meat than we would normally eat in three or four days, all in one meal, and it was at this point that my digestion began to protest. Our hostess lacks a freezer, so we took home the leftovers and this week they did us six more helpings with the addition of copious amounts of veg, finishing up as a curry soup last night.

Our own party on the 28th was the Black and White affair, so the foods were mostly based on caviar, black olives, white cheese and the like. Everybody brought a dish, and I had done enough food for an army, so the next day we gave away the greater part of the salads to a visiting family with six children, and lived for the next three days on leftovers: blinis, choux puffs, coleslaw, celeri remoulade, potato salad, brownies and licorice. A balanced diet this is not.

New Year’s Eve was the tipping point for me. I am just not used to these multiple late-night finishes, or so much food, and I normally wilt at 10.00. After snacking on amuse-bouche and champagne all evening, we began to eat in earnest at 10.30pm and by the time we’d finished our main course, it was 2.00am. At this point, I had to concede defeat, so we left to cries of wimpishness. Our undaunted friends finished at 5.00am, got up early and headed for the coast for the day – snow and ice notwithstanding. 

Since New Year, therefore, the DH and I have given our systems some time off – especially from the booze, as I am getting too old to spend every day with a hangover – and have tried to return to our normal habits. This means croissants and coffee for breakfast, a light main meal with lots of veg at lunch, soup or a roll in the evening, meat no more than once a day, a vegetarian day mid-week, and a litre of wine per week rather than aperitifs, champagne, wine and digestifs every day.

The chocolates sent from Yorkshire have all been consumed, the posh biscuits and cakes are nearly all gone, and finally, finally my poor liver can come out of hiding. 


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