Sunday, 12 December 2010

Artistic Differences

I have called a conference because I am having a mini Christmas crisis vis a vis what to have as a table decoration this year. There aren't many things that phase me about Christmas but the things that generally cause me angst every year are 1) Christmas cards 2) wrapping paper and 3) how to dress the dinner table. Number 1 is now solved in that we make our own cards, Number 2 was solved for this year because I found a load of paper left over from last year and thought, 'Hmmmm, this is okay, but 3) the dinner table is still there, haunting me in the wee small hours and changing colour scheme every time I think I'm drifting off to nighty bye-bye land.

Time for some assistance.

'What's the problem and what food are you going to give us to help you solve it?' asks Mrs Miggins, ever the practical one. It is her third birthday today and she is looking pretty fabulous now her feathers have grown back after her November moult. She looks like a cross between Rita Hayworth and that hen that Gonzo Muppet always used to hang around with.

'I have waffles from the Christmas Market,' I say, 'and honey roasted cashews and a yard of Jaffa cakes.'
'Well, there's your answer,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Put the yard of Jaffa cakes down the middle of the table. Should reach from one end to the other without a problem. Balance a row of conkers on top for extra effect.'
'I was hoping for more foliage,' I say.
'Tinsel,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'That's what you need. Tinsel and candles and shiny balls.'
'I did that a couple of years ago,' I say.
'Diggers,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Put a line of diggers in the middle of the table...'
'Are diggers particularly festive?' I ask.
'...or better still,' continues Mrs Slocombe, 'arrange the diggers in a circle, with their buckets raised. You can put a gift in each bucket for each guest.'
'Okay,' I say, 'I'm getting an image now...'
'Like a teabag,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Or a snail. Snails make good presents.'
'Again, not very Christmassy,' I say.

'I think something simple and classic is called for,' says Mrs Miggins.
'Exactly,' I say. I balance a Dutch waffle on top of each mug of tea. 'Now leave these to steam for a few minutes,' I say, handing the mugs around the table, ' and then the caramel will go all soft and melty.'
'Like a snowman,' says Mrs Miggins.
'Probably not as cold,' I say.
'I mean the simple and classic idea,' says Mrs Miggins.
'Oh, right,' I say.

'Or a model of the skyline of Manhattan crafted from marshmallow and plaster of Paris,' says Mrs Slocombe, who ignores my advice about the waffle and wolfs it down in one.
'No,' I say. 'You're just being silly now.'
'A spacehopper?' says Mrs S hopefully.
'No. Stop it. Have another waffle,' I say.

'I know,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'How about a pyramid of Maltesers studded with nuts and covered in spun sugar?'
'Croquembouche,' I say.
'It was only a suggestion,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'I mean the idea sounds like a croquembouche,' I say. 'I made a croquembouche once. It looked spectacular but the spinning sugar can be a bit tricky.'
'I think a single pillar candle in the middle of a circle of oasis that is packed full of greenery like eucalyptus, fir and holly and punctuated by white chrysanthemums and roses would look good,' says Mrs Miggins.
'Yes,' I say. 'I like it. Simple, yet elegant.'
'Like Jumbo from London Zoo,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Elegant, not elephant,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'Or an elephant,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'An elephant would look fab in the middle of a Christmas dinner table. Especially if it had an meerkat balanced on the end of its trunk.'

I decide to call an end to the crisis conference and send the girls back into the garden with the yard of Jaffa cakes.

Sometimes it is best to solve a crisis under one's own steam.


Bob said...

Spinning sugar is quite easy once you purchase a sugar thermometre. I speak as one who single handedly managed to give three scouts third degree burns during toffee apple night.

I am unlikely to get to you before christmas this year, but a spun sugar nest could well be a gift post xmas and all that!! It will be too late for xmas dinner but will taste jolly good!

Denise said...

The more I think about it, the more enthused I am becoming about a croquembouche. And I do actually have a sugar thermometer.

Think of me this weekend, wrestling with spun sugar until the kitchen becomes a sticky mess of spider's web.

Sad face that it's unlikely we'll catch up before Christmas, but with the weather closing in, best to stay snug and safe and warm.