I love Christmas for what it means to me: time spend with family and friends, enjoying each others company and some extra fancy food, the general cheer in the air and on the streets, decorating my home and myself. But what I love above all are the lights. Especially the twinkle lights that are in my home year round, but are suddenly everywhere come Christmas time. I love that in the darkest time of year, people make the effort to cheer everything up a bit by stringing lights around the house and lighting some candles. It is much needed.
The winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year and people used to, and some still do, celebrate the return of the light. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. I have always loved this idea. I do not particularly like the dark, so the return of light to my days is a grand reason to celebrate indeed.
I’d been looking for a more tangible reason to celebrate this season than it just being Christmas and getting to spend time with my family. Luckily, I get to do that often. Because I’m not a Christian, Christmas doesn’t hold any more meaning for me than the reasons listed above. And so we decided to celebrate the winter solstice this year. We did it by lighting lots of candles, and by the only other way we knew: making and eating good food.
I made five small dishes and they were all wonderful (from left to right on the third photo):
- baked zucchini sticks and sweet onion dip
- beef carpaccio with arugula, pine nuts, grana padano and truffle mayonnaise
- orange salad with avocado and shallot vinaigrette
- mini quiches with salmon, arugula, pine nuts and shallots
- smoked salmon and beet puree on sourdough rye toast (adapted from zalmtorentje)
For dessert there were poached pears with cinnamon ice-cream and a molten chocolate drizzle! Yum.
Next year I think we’ll build a great fire and roast a whole pig over it. Or something like that.